By Sam Baker - 07/27/13 09:24 PM EDT
Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday called for an "independent and impartial inquiry" into the most recent outburst of violence in Egypt.
"In this extremely volatile environment, Egyptian authorities have a moral and legal obligation to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression," Kerry said. "Both are essential components of the inclusive democratic process they have publicly embraced."
The Obama administration has avoided calling Morsi's ouster a coup — a label that would force the U.S. to cut off aid to Egypt. Kerry on Saturday again framed the upheaval as just one step in Egypt's political process.
"Over two years ago, a revolution began," Kerry said. "Its final verdict is not yet decided, but it will be forever impacted by what happens right now."
He called for an investigation into the latest round of violence, which reportedly began after Islamist protesters marched through the streets to show their support for Morsi.
Some protesters were shot at point-blank range, according to The New York Times.
"Violence not only further sets back the process of reconciliation and democratization in Egypt, but it will negatively impact regional stability," Kerry said. "At this critical juncture, it is essential that the security forces and the interim government respect the right of peaceful protest, including the ongoing sit-in demonstrations."