CAIRO (AP) — Al-Qaida's leader said the military coup that ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi provides proof that Islamic rule cannot be established through democracy and urged the Islamist leader's followers to abandon the ballot box in favor of armed resistance.
In a 15-minute audio message posted online late Friday, Ayman al-Zawahri also lashed out at the Egyptian military, the country's secular and liberal elites as well as the Coptic Christian minority, accusing them of conspiring against Morsi solely because he was an Islamist.
Egypt's army ousted Morsi, the country's first democratically elected leader, on July 3 after days of mass protests demanding the president's removal. The coup has divided the nation into rival camps, with an array of liberal and secular Egyptians supporting the military's move and Morsi's supporters and Islamist allies rejecting it.
"We have to admit first that legitimacy does not mean elections and democracy, but legitimacy is the Shariah (Islamic law)... which is above all the constitutions and laws," al-Zawahri said in comments addressed to Morsi's supporters.
He condemned the Brotherhood for having "tried its best to satisfy America and the secularists" by relinquishing "jihad," usually invoked by al-Qaida to mean armed struggle. He also noted that Morsi's government was overthrown despite its acceptance of Egypt's landmark peace treaty with Israel and security agreements with the United States — both of which Islamic militants sharply oppose.
"You forgot that democracy is the West's monopoly and it is allowed for those who belong to the Islamists to benefit from its fruits only on one condition — you be a slave for the West's ideology, action, policy and economy," he said.
Al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists roundly reject democracy as a Western-imposed system, and oppose it on the grounds that it puts man's laws above those of God.
Turning to Egypt's military, al-Zawahri, who is Egyptian and grew up in a Cairo suburb, accused the army of being a pawn of U.S. interests.
"The Americanized army, was raised by America's aid, training courses and exercises and their allegiance was bought to fulfill the Americans' orders and protect U.S. interests as well as maintain the security of its foster child, Israel," he said.
He said Egypt's secular camp forgot democracy, elections and the peaceful transfer of power and resorted instead to the "Americanized military to overthrow the Egyptian constitution."
The message's authenticity could not be independently confirmed but was posted on a militant website commonly used by al-Qaida. It was produced by the group's arm, As Sahab.