Dozens of Protesters Injured in Egypt in Clash Between Army and Brotherhood

Ousted Morsi Remains in Jail as Protests Rage

Getty Images

By Reuters

Published July 27, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Egyptian security forces shot dead dozens of supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on Saturday, witnesses said, days after the army chief called for a popular mandate to wipe out “violence and terrorism”.

Men in helmets and black police fatigues fired on crowds gathered before dawn on the fringes of a round-the-clock sit-in near a mosque in northeast Cairo, Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement said.

“They are not shooting to wound, they are shooting to kill,” said Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad. “The bullet wounds are in the head and chest.”

The bloodshed, near the military parade ground where President Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981, has rocked a country already struggling with the transition to democracy two years after Hosni Mubarak was swept from power.

A Muslim Brotherhood website said 120 people had been killed and some 4,500 injured. A Reuters reporter counted 36 bodies at one morgue, while health officials said there were a further 21 corpses in two nearby hospitals.

Activists rushed blood-spattered casualties into a makeshift hospital. Some were carried in on planks or blankets. One ashen teenager was laid out on the floor, a bullet hole in his head.

Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim accused the Brotherhood of exaggerating the death toll for political ends. He said only 21 people had died and denied police opened fire.

Ibrahim said local residents living close to the Rabaa al-Adawia mosque vigil had clashed with protesters in the early hours after they had blocked off a major bridge road. He said that police had used teargas to try to break up the fighting.

Well over 200 people have been killed in violence since the army toppled Mursi on July 3, following huge protests against his year in power. The army denies accusations it staged a coup, saying it intervened to prevent national chaos.

SISI’S CHALLENGE

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians had poured onto the streets on Friday in response to a call by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for nationwide demonstrations to give him backing to confront the weeks-long wave of violence.

His appeal was seen as a challenge to the Brotherhood, which organised its own rallies on Friday calling for the return of Mursi, who has been held in an undisclosed location since his ousting and faces a raft of charges, including murder.

Ibrahim said Mursi was likely to be transferred shortly to the same Cairo prison where former leader Mubarak is now held.

Brotherhood leaders appealed for calm on Saturday, but activists at the Rabaa al-Adawia mosque vigil voiced fury.

“The people want the execution of Sisi,” a cleric shouted to the crowd from a stage by the mosque. “The people want the execution of the butcher.”

Interior Minister Ibrahim said the pro-Mursi sit-ins would “God willing, soon … be dealt with” based on a decision by a public prosecutor, who is reviewing complaints from local residents unhappy with the huge encampment on their doorstep.

The head of the Nour Party, the second-biggest Islamist group after the Brotherhood, called for an immediate investigation into what it called a “massacre.”

“There is no substitute for a political solution with the commitment of everyone to exercise restraint … and to renounce violence in all its forms, whether verbal or physical,” Younis Makhyoun said in a Facebook statement.

The Brotherhood is a highly organised movement with grassroots support throughout Egypt, making it hard to silence even if the army decides to mount a bigger crackdown.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she “deeply deplores” Saturday’s deaths and urged all sides to halt the violence. There was no immediate comment from the United States, which provides Egypt with some $1.5 billion dollars of aid a year, mainly military hardware.

Washington has delayed delivery of four F-16 fighters because of the turmoil. However, officials have indicated they do not intend to cut off aid to a country seen as a vital ally and which has a peace deal with neighbouring Israel.

“BULLETS WHIZZING”

Witnesses said police first fired rounds of teargas at Brotherhood protesters gathered on a boulevard leading away from the Rabaa mosque, with live shots ringing out soon afterwards.

“There were snipers on the rooftops, I could hear the bullets whizzing past me,” said Ahmed el Nashar, 34, a business consultant, choking back his tears.

“Man, people were just dropping.”

Dr. Ibtisam Zein, overseeing the Brotherhood morgue, said most of the dead were hit in the head, some between the eyes.

The bodies were wrapped in white sheets and laid on the floor, their names scrawled on the shrouds. A cleaner busily mopped the floor, washing away pools of blood.

Haddad said the Brotherhood remained committed to pursuing peaceful protests, despite Saturday’s deaths - the second mass shooting of its supporters this month by security forces, who killed 53 people on July 8.

Brotherhood activists at Rabaa said they would not be cowed and warned of worse bloodshed if the security forces did not back down. “We will stay here until we die, one by one,” said Ahmed Ali, 24, helping treat casualties at the field hospital.

“We have the examples of Algeria and Syria in our minds. We don’t want it to become a civil war. If we take up arms it might become one. This is a religious belief.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • How did Tariq Abu Khdeir go from fun-loving Palestinian-American teen to international icon in just a few short weeks? http://jd.fo/d4kkV
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.