Egypt on the Brink: Dozens of Morsi Supporters Killed in Cairo as Crisis Deepens

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MAHMOUD KHALED / AFP / Getty Images

People run for cover as security forces fire tear gas after shooting to disperse Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, on July 8, 2013.

Egypt’s splintering national unity was further fractured in the early hours of July 8 by a chaotic burst of dawn violence that left 51 civilians dead—all of them reportedly supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. One security officer died in the violence, which took place outside the headquarters of the Republican Guard—where Morsi supporters have held a sit-in for several days in the belief that he is detained inside.

Confusion surrounded the massacre’s grisly aftermath, with both sides offering wildly conflicting versions of events. The army, in an official statement published by state-owned daily Al-Ahram’s website, said an “armed terrorist group” attempted to break into the Republican Guard headquarters in the early hours of Monday and “attacked security forces.” A military spokesman later asserted that the Brotherhood had gunmen firing from nearby rooftops. He warned that “interfering with Egypt’s national security will not be allowed.”

However the Brotherhood has presented reams of evidence—spent shell casings and hundreds of gunshot wounds—along with personal testimonies claiming their people were ambushed by soldiers, who fired live ammunition indiscriminately. The soldiers “started firing live rounds during the dawn prayers,” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad told Al Jazeera English. “After that it was a blood-bath, a massacre.”

(PHOTOSCairo Massacre: Dozens of Pro-Morsi Supporters Killed in Clashes with Egypt’s Military)

Whatever the violence’s origins, the incident could have a catastrophic effect on Egypt’s bruised and fractious political atmosphere. Interim President Adly Mansour, four days into his administration, ordered an independent judicial inquiry into the events and repeated his call for national reconciliation talks—talks, he says, would include the Brotherhood if the Islamist group was willing to attend. But the prospect of that sort of reconciliation and reintroduction of the Brotherhood into Egypt’s political fold seemed dimmer than ever on Monday.

“This is going to be endless,” Amr Darrag, a senior Brotherhood official who resigned his cabinet post last week after Morsi’s ouster, told TIME. “We’re not even at square one, we’re moving back to where we were before the 2011 revolution.”

Perhaps even more worrisome than the Brotherhood’s reaction will be the effect this could have inside the ranks of the fledgling transitional post-Morsi coalition. The Salafist Nour Party announced its withdrawal from the coalition early Monday morning, but later softened its language to a mere “suspension” of its participation. And former senior Brotherhood official Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh became the first to call for President Mansour to resign over the incident.

Aboul Fotouh—a centrist who finished fourth in the first round of presidential elections last year—had supported the protests seeking Morsi’s early exit. But he had strongly opposed any sort of military intervention and conspicuously didn’t join the diverse array of political and social luminaries backing the military’s move.

The Nour Party, however, are active lynchpins of the new coalition; their presence among those publicly endorsing the military’s ouster of Morsi is a necessary element to counter Brotherhood claims that the entire affair is a thinly veiled war on political Islam. Their continued participation is so important that they were largely credited with single-handedly blocking the nomination of Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate and liberal politico, as prime minister.

(MOREHow Egypt’s Turmoil Echoes Algeria’s Bloody Civil War)

As Mansour and the military work to rally support and move through the transitional traumas, an increasingly hysterical nation will look to both sides to find a way back from this brink. There doesn’t seem to be much room to operate. For the new government and their hundreds of thousands of cheering supporters, the end of the Morsi presidency is a historical fact now. And for the Brotherhood—which has brought its own considerable support to the street—nothing less than his full reinstatement will bring them off the streets.

“It’s not even Morsi and it’s not the Brotherhood. It’s the act of aggression against legitimacy and the diversion of the democratic path. Once you lower your standards on that, everything is lost,” Darrag said. However, Darrag did seem to offer a potential olive branch, hinting that, should Morsi be released, he wouldn’t necessarily have to remain president for his full remaining tenure. “The president should come back, but after that anything can be decided,” he said. “The reconciliation talks could lead to all kinds of solutions.” But this glimmer of rapprochement remains for now obscured by Cairo’s latest scenes of death and bloodshed.

Khalil is a Cairo-based journalist and author of Liberation Square: Inside the Egyptian Revolution and the Rebirth of a Nation.

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149 comments
Esam A Razek
Esam A Razek

salah , u think u and urs MB r the islam ?????? shame on u a big idiot

Seif Salem
Seif Salem

Basel I would go with the video showing the goat faced MFsatan worshipers of doom holding a weapon, and shooting directly in the cameras face or the one with the other MF'er shooting civilians from behind the tree or your MF'in brotha that shot the kid in the back of the head to try and blame it on the military. Maybe your brothas of satan that threw the young boys off the roof. how about their sad families! do you wish this for your family, and friends.

Seif Salem
Seif Salem

what baby Basel even CNN said that was a lie!

Joe Sam
Joe Sam

This is war against terror ... muslims brotherhood is group of terrorists ...

Joe Sam
Joe Sam

تحيا مصر... مصر علمانيه مش متطرفه ومش ارهاييه

Basel Ali
Basel Ali

this is a video demonstrating what happend

Basel Ali
Basel Ali

yeah and who would go attack a military area with his baby?

Daniyal Umer
Daniyal Umer

why r they protesting plzz tell am very eager???

AmanPasha
AmanPasha

HARD LINE xTIANS FROM AROUND THE WORLD ARE SO HAPPY ON THIS NEW DEVELOPMENT, JUST READ THE COMMENTS IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING 

AmanPasha
AmanPasha

Egyptian army is just another instrument in the hands of imperialist capitalism, Anne the viceroy of Egypt is pulling all the strings. EGYPTIAN ARMY JUST ANOTHER MERCENARY ARMY, LIKE ANY OTHER 3RD WORLD ARMY 

EgyptReport
EgyptReport

First of all, the election of the MB was fraught with fraud and deception. It was only to avoid blood shed that the military agreed to let them take charge in 2012.  

Second, once they took charge, they systematically pushed out all other groups in a blatant grab for absolute power.  

Third, through deals with the US, they diverted significant resources to Gaza and Hamas with the intent of using part of the Sinai as a new Palestine in exchange for $8 billion channeled through Qatar with the support of the US. This resulted in shortages of fuel, electricity and food all of which have suddenly reappeared in Egypt since the fall of the MB.  

Fourth, the impeachment of Mursi by popular will was supported on June 30 by 17 million Egyptians in the streets and on July 7 by 33 MILLION in the streets again to show support for the military.  

Finally, the recent deaths were the result of the MB attacking the military with guns, snipers and fire bombs in a well organized and planned attack to discredit the military.  

The western press is being effectively spun by the MB without finding out the facts.

Essiet Sunny
Essiet Sunny

Current Awake July 2013 published by Jehovahs Witnesses with the Headline: "IS PROTEST THE ANSWER? Page 9,Top Corner, I quote: The bible offers solution to injustice, corruption and Oppression. It describes a government that God has set up in Heaven that will replace the failed political and economic Systems that lead to protest. Read Psalm72:12,14. Mathew 6:9,10: yes God's Messainic Government, Christ Jesus as King Designate is Mankind's only True Hope for a peaseful World. Visit Web: www.jw.org.

EgyptReport
EgyptReport

First of all, the election of the MB was fraught with fraud and deception. It was only to avoid blood shed that the military agreed to let them take charge in 2012.  


Second, once they took charge, they systematically pushed out all other groups in a blatant grab for absolute power.  

Third, through deals with the US, they diverted significant resources to Gaza and Hamas with the intent of using part of the Sinai as a new Palestine in exchange for $8 billion channeled through Qatar with the support of the US. This resulted in shortages of fuel, electricity and food all of which have suddenly reappeared in Egypt since the fall of the MB.  

Fourth, the impeachment of Mursi by popular will was supported on June 30 by 17 million Egyians in the streets and on July 7 by 33 MILLION in the streets again to show support for the military.  

Finally, the recent deaths were the result of the MB attacking the military with guns, snipers and fire bombs in a well organized and planned attack to discredit the military.  

The western press is being effectively spun by the MB without finding out the facts.

Essam Shaat
Essam Shaat

To Those who care about the American interests in the Egypt and the Middle East It is more than clear now that you have lost so many floors here in Cairo lately. The reason is not only Mrs. Anne strategies but also her provoking behaviours that show a level of interference that looks so much to bare. WE , are the Egyptian people declare that this American Ambassador is not and won't be welcomed anymore ... To Obama ... We warn you , you will lose more Mr. Obama if you let her or support her doing what she is doing now. This lady is sick by definition. We know what you had done in Pakistan and we won't let it happen here in Egypt. Do not even dream about it. Mr. President save your neck ... she is cutting it with what she is doing. To All American people We love you. We know how your money is used badly here in our country. We respect your interests and we like to help you as we need your help too. Do Not accept stupid politicians to ruin your lives as well as ours. Stop them from ruining the basic LOVE and RESPECT we can share ...

Ahmed Samir
Ahmed Samir

There are no civil war in Egypt, but the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamists say either President Mohamed Morsi, or terrorism.Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are terrorism., Who are graduates of the law, who are beaten in the police and burlap .

Comte De La Ferre
Comte De La Ferre

Ingy Esmat - Unfortunately, it is called often protesters the terrorists and armed bandits. I suggest the "protesters" must be localized and neutralized as possible as soon. Otherwise they can involve all country in civil war.

Ingy Esmat
Ingy Esmat

First of all I would like to say that elections are not the only tool for democracy. The June 30th revolution demanded early elections. 30 million people went down in the streets and demanded early elections. If moray had played his cards right, he could have entered these elections, him or another of the MB lackeys.... However he decided to kill the Egyptian people instead! He and his people declared the 33 million people, faithless. His people openly declared that they will turn into another quaeda or Taliban. They will bomb us and kill us. They stab girls with swords and knifes, they throw children off rooftops, and kill their own people to make it look like the army did it. And them say that it's for Islam?! I am a Muslim and that has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a religion of tolerance. Not of violence. The sooo called MS killed peopled urging the hokey months where warring and fighting is not allowed, how does that make them the better Muslims. How is is being a Muslim , by terrorizing women and children, or kidnapping soldiers or letting criminals out of prison?

Ali Bakr
Ali Bakr

When is a military coup not a military coup? When it happens in Egypt, apparently. Those Western leaders who are telling us Egypt is still on the path to “democracy” have to remember that Morsi was indeed elected in a real, Western-approved election. For the first time in the history of the world, a coup is not a coup. The army take over, depose and imprison the democratically elected president,suspend the constitution, arrest the usual suspects, close down television stations and mass their armour in the streets of the capital. But the word ‘coup’ does not – and cannot – cross the lips of the Blessed Barack Obama. Nor does the hopeless UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon dare to utter such an offensive word. It’s not as if Obama doesn’t know what’s going on. Snipers in Cairo killed 15 Egyptians this week from a rooftop of the very university in which Obama made his ‘reach-out’ speech to the Muslim world in 2009. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/when-is-a-military-coup-not-a-military-coup-when-it-happens-in-egypt-apparently-8688000.html

Prof. Sudershan Batra
Prof. Sudershan Batra

I feel sad. No amount of army can ever control such situations. Even Army may get divided. Who will rescue whom then. Need of the hour is a conciliatory process leading to peaceful re elections. I feel sad for Egypt.

Vijay Banga
Vijay Banga

I see trouble escalating with no solution in near future in sight

Rana Hamdy
Rana Hamdy

protesters do not carry weapons in this case they attacked the republican guards with guns it was not a peaceful protest

Kuroneko Shingapooru
Kuroneko Shingapooru

It is NOT a crisis. The people are fighting for their right to have the kind of leader they think is truly capable of leading the country. How old is Egyptian civilisation by the way? One cannot even begin to count. :)

Mark East
Mark East

Egypt is doing what those in the West are afraid to do, they are engaging radical Islam and defeating it before the Obamas of the world allow them to take over.

Chandra Chauhan
Chandra Chauhan

praying that they can come to a swift resolution asap.

Ida Yanti
Ida Yanti

I'll check the news I read ; after all inside my heart despite everything whiches right or wrong , I feel sorry for what happened in Mesir.

Ariel Ayala Vera
Ariel Ayala Vera

what are you talking about 54 protesters killed, is'nt stoking fears of a civil war,, it's a declare Civil War at full Force....

Zeinab Aly
Zeinab Aly

this is the truth about the attack on the republican guards by the MB terrorists as seen from up .the military forces are simply defending themselves and institute against the terrorists of MB which is the law in all civil countries

Depp Almussa
Depp Almussa

Brotherhood are liars, what happened to Egypt is a popular revolution, the Brotherhood against terrorists liars, long live the great Egypt

LiliBanner01
LiliBanner01

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