Violence Explodes in Egypt; Brotherhood Supporters Vow to Reseat Morsi or Die

Cairo helicopter

The violence in Egypt did not take long to develop. As we predicted yesterday, clashes between pro-Morsi and andti-Morsi groups exploded in cities throughout the country as angry Muslims left Friday prayers and took to the streets. The military responded with live fire. According to the New York Times, “The Muslim Brotherhood, which organized the protests, said at least 17 of its supporters were killed.” Later reports indicated that at least 30 people have died since the fighting began. The police and the military were clearly on the side of the coup, but the Muslim Brotherhood supporters have vowed to reinstate Morsi or die.

According to today’s al Jazeera account, “The street battles began after a large crowd of Morsi supporters marched from Nasr City towards the Maspero state TV building and clashed with anti-Morsi protesters on the October 6 Bridge near Tahrir Square in the centre of the capital . . . . There are thousands of people on the streets. [...] When people heard pro-Morsi people were on their way, they came towards the bridge and that’s where clashes started happening. People are throwing whatever they can and it is a very intense situation.”

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s call for  an “inclusive” political process in Egypt with a role for the Muslim Brotherhood was all but lost in the overwhelming mob-scenes and the accompanying violence. The Obama administration has finally succeeded in completely marginalizing US influence in the affairs of both allies and enemies.

The following articles appeared in al Jazeera today:


Egypt army opens fire on pro-Morsi protesters

At least three supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi were killed by gunfire as a crowd of several hundred tried to march towards the military barracks in Cairo where he is believed to be held.

Al Jazeera’s Matthew Cassel, reporting from near the military barracks, said several dozen people were also injured by shotgun pellets fired by the army.

“One protester broke away from the rally to stick a pro-Morsi poster on the barbed-wire around the barracks. He was shot in the head with birdshot,” he said.

Security forces were cordoning the Republican Guard barracks but it was not immediately clear who had opened fire.

An army spokesman denied that troops opened fire on supporters, saying that soldiers were using only blank rounds and teargas. It was unclear whether security forces other than the army were present.

The interior ministry also denied that people were killed in the clashes.

Parliament dissolved

Also on Friday, Adly Mansour, the newly appointed interim head of state, dissolved parliament by decree, state television said.

Only the upper house, the Shura Council, had remained active after the lower house was dissolved by military-led authorities shortly before Morsi was elected a year ago.

State TV also said that Mansour had appointed Mohamed Ahmed Farid as head of intelligence. He replaces Mohamed Raafat Shehata, a Morsi appointee, who becomes national security adviser to Mansour.

In Nasr City in the Egyptian capital, thousands of supporters of Morsi gathered after Friday prayer to protest against his ouster.

The leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, addressed the crowd saying that the protesters will continue their sit-in until Morsi is released.

“The Muslim Brotherhood are ones who have been serving you and I am one of your servants. The masses are here for God’s religion first and for freeing Egypt,” Badie said, adding; “We will stay in public squares until we free our elected president and we carry him on our shoulders.”

The prosecutor’s office ordered Badie’s arrest on Thursday after the overthrow of Morsi, but Badie said that he was not detained. “Reports about my arrest are false. It is a lie. We are free revolutionaries,” he said.

Senior Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed ElBeltagy told the protestors: “Your brothers are now at the Republican Guards trying to help president Morsi get out. Your brothers are being fired at with live bullets.

“I call on the military is to remove the defence minister and to bring president Morsi back to power. We are going to the republican guards as martyrs in million. Today, president Morsi should come back to power,” ElBeltagy said.

The coalition on Thursday urged people to take part in a “Friday of Rejection” protest following weekly prayers. The call was seen as a test of whether Morsi still has a support base in the country, and how the army will deal with it.

Later on Friday a large crowd of Morsi supporters marched from Nasr City towards the Maspero state TV building and clashed with anti-Morsi protesters on the 6th October bridge in the centre of the capital.

Morsi, who was Egypt’s first democratically elected president, belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood movement .

Military appeal

Earlier, the military had appealed for conciliation and warned against unrest, as police rounded up senior Islamists ahead of the planned Brotherhood protests.

The authorities have also closed the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the day.

Army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi , released a statement later on Thursday on its Facebook page, saying that everyone had a right to peaceful protest, but that right should not be abused.

Excessive protests, the army warned, could lead to civil unrest, while reiterating that it was not targeting any political group.

“Wisdom, true nationalism and constructive human values that all religions have called for, require us now to avoid taking any exceptional or arbitrary measures against any faction or political current,” the statement said.

The newly sworn-in interim leader Mansour used his inauguration on Thursday to heal the relationship with the Brotherhood.

“The Muslim Brotherhood are part of this people and are invited to participate in building the nation as nobody will be excluded, and if they respond to the invitation, they will be welcomed,” he said.

Also from al  Jazeera:

Clashes erupt near Cairo’s Tahrir Square

Supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi have been engaged in running street battles in the centre of Cairo after the pro-Morsi camp staged massive protests in the capital and other places across Egypt.

A crowd of Morsi supporters surged across the 6th October Bridge over the Nile River in Cairo after nightfall on Friday and clashed with opponents of the deposed president.

One man was seen apparently firing a gun, while gunshots could he heard in the area. People were seen throwing rocks as the two sides advanced and retreated in turn on the bridge near Tahrir Square.

At least two people were killed and more than 70 injured, a state TV reporter said, quoting medical personnel at a makeshift hospital in the square.

Another 17 people were killed in clashes around the country involving Morsi opponents and backers, as well as security forces, state TV reported, quoting health ministry officials.

Three of the victims were Morsi supporters who were killed by gunfire as a crowd of several hundred tried to march towards the military barracks after the Friday afternoon prayer in Cairo where Morsi is believed to be held.

Army intervention

Military armoured vehicles raced onto the bridge late on Friday in the first major attempt to break up the clashes.

Several armoured vehicles, at least one with young Morsi opponents sitting on the roof, deployed on the bridge, aiming to chase away Morsi supporters. Military helicopters also flew toward Tahrir.

The street battles began after a large crowd of Morsi supporters marched from Nasr City towards the Maspero state TV building and clashed with anti-Morsi protesters on the October 6 Bridge near Tahrir Square in the centre of the capital.

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from near the bridge, said the situation was increasingly tense.

“There are thousands of people on the streets. [...] When people heard pro-Morsi people were on their way, they came towards the bridge and that’s where clashes started happening. People are throwing whatever they can and it is a very intense situation.”

Live TV pictures showed how hundreds of protesters clashed and cars were set ablaze, as both sides kept throwing fireworks at each other.

Riots were also reported in Al Manial district, an island in river Nile, between Cairo and Giza, according to state TV said.

A state TV reporter said that some pro-Morsi protesters in Giza decided to stop marching towards Maspero after hearing about the clashes.

‘Sacrifice for Morsi

Earlier on Friday, Mohamed Badie, the top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke of his intention not to give up on Morsi’s presidency.

The dramatic appearance by Badie on stage before tens of thousands of supporters in the capital’s Nasr City was his first in public since Morsi was forced from office.

In a defiant speech he said, “We are willing to sacrifice ourselves to protect our President Mohammed Morsi.”

Badie also addressed the Coptic pope, Tawadros II of Alexandria, saying that he was not qualified, “to speak on behalf of the Christians of Egypt. When it comes to politics you are just a religious symbol.”

Morsi, “is my president and your president and the president of all Egyptians,” Badie proclaimed, thrusting his arms in the air.

“God make Morsi victorious and bring him back to the palace,” he said in the speech, which was partially aired on state TV. “We are his soldiers, we defend him with our lives.”

Badie’s speech appeared to be aimed at not only firing up his supporters but also at trying to win support within the military against army chief General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the defence minister who announced the president’s removal on Wednesday night.

Read the original article here.

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Posted in Flashpoint, Middle East

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