American diplomats could find themselves in the Muslim Brotherhood's crosshairs now that Essam el-Erian, the vice president of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, has called on protesters to besiege the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
El-Erian blames the U.S. government for the Egyptian military's July 3 decision to overthrow President Mohamed Morsi. American policies have been roundly criticized by both pro- and anti-Morsi forces in the days since Morsi was deposed.
"We hope the diplomats will not be exposed to any harm, but we want them out of the country. We do not want them on our land," El-Erian said according to Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper. He made the call Monday during a meeting of the dissolved Shura Council (the upper House of Egypt's parliament).
El-Erian predicted that the scope of the protests would grow and demanded that Egyptian army and intelligence leaders who participated in what he called the "coup" against Morsi to pack their bags.
Such calls conjure images of Islamist demonstrators climbing over the embassy wall on September 11, 2012 to haul down the U.S. flag and replace it with an al-Qaida banner. Egypt's Interior Ministry says it will not let the protesters attack the U.S. embassy. Egyptian police setup barriers around the U.S. embassy prior to El-Erian's remarks.
The U.S. State Department says it is taking the situation seriously.
"In terms of the safety of our officials serving, this is something we always continue to evaluate. And we have taken steps and would take steps as needed if the situation warrants," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during Monday's press briefing.
The Brotherhood leader's call to besiege the U.S. embassy comes amid ongoing violence between pro-Morsi and anti-Morsi forces that has killed nine people in the past 24 hours in Cairo.