TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings, on Thursday condemned the Egyptian army's removal of elected president Mohamed Mursi as "a coup against legitimacy" and urged Cairo to guarantee his safety.
Mursi rose to power after autocratic president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a 2011 uprising inspired by the popular revolt against dictatorship in Tunisia a few weeks before. Moderate Islamists were subsequently elected to govern Tunisia.
"Military intervention is totally unacceptable and we call on Egypt to ensure that Mursi is physically protected," said President Moncef Marzouki. "We view what is happening in Egypt with concern - the arrests of journalists and politicians.".
Tunisia's ruling Ennahda party denounced also what it called a "coup against legitimacy" in Egypt. "Ennahda rejects what happened and believes legitimacy is represented by President Mursi and no one else," Ennahda said in a statement.
It said it feared that "this coup will fuel violence and extremism" and induce despair in the value of democracy.
Mursi was ousted after mass protests exceeding the size of those that toppled Mubarak. Critics said Mursi fell because his Muslim Brotherhood, despite a limited electoral mandate, focused on seizing total control of the state rather than tackling myriad problems of economic breakdown and poor governance.
(Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Mark Heinrich)