Al Qaeda leader tells Mursi supporters democracy not the way

ABU DHABI Sat Aug 3, 2013 12:50am EDT

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans and hold up posters during a rally marching back towards Rabaa al-Adawiya Square where they are camping, in Cairo August 2, 2013. The poster reads, ''Yes to legitimacy, no to the coup.'' REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans and hold up posters during a rally marching back towards Rabaa al-Adawiya Square where they are camping, in Cairo August 2, 2013. The poster reads, ''Yes to legitimacy, no to the coup.''

Credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

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ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri urged Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters to abandon democracy and seek to govern through the full implementation of Islamic law.

In a 15-minute recording posted on Islamist websites on Saturday, Zawahri also criticized Islamists who had formed political parties in Egypt and supported the Egyptian military in ousting former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.

"I give this piece of advice to whoever supported Mursi and I tell them first we have to admit that legitimacy doesn't lie in elections and democracy but it lies in Sharia," Zawahri said.

"Sharia is not electing Mursi president of a republic, a president of a secular and nationalistic state," he added.

The recording, posted two days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave his seal of approval to Egypt's new leaders saying that they had restored democracy, also lashed out against U.S. policy and the Egyptian army.

"The crusaders, the secularists, the pro-U.S. army and former Mubarak supporters and a few of those who are linked to the Islamists have worked with Gulf money and U.S. planning to overthrow Mohamed Mursi's government," Zawahri said.

More than 300 people have been killed in Egypt since the army removed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood from power on July 3 in response to mass protests against his rule.

The popular mood in Egypt had swung against the Brotherhood after Mursi was accused of trying to establish himself as a new dictator during his first year in office.

Pro-Mursi supporters have been staging two main sit-ins in Cairo since his ouster asking to bring him back to power.

"What has happened is the greatest evidence that taking democracy as a path to Islamic rule has failed," Zawahri said.

(Reporting By Maha El Dahan and Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Bill Trott and Lisa Shumaker)

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