Deaths reported as thousands of Morsi supporters march in Egypt's 'Friday of anger'

16.08.2013 16:59

Tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood
supporters stormed the streets of Cairo
Friday, some chanting “down with military
rule!” as the embattled country braced for
more protests over a crackdown on
Supporters of deposed Egyptian President
Mohammed Morsi marched in several
Cairo neighborhoods and other towns
across the country, protesting a military-
imposed state of emergency after massive
bloodshed earlier this week.
The protesters poured out of mosques
after traditional mid-day prayers,
responding to the Muslim Brotherhood's
call for a "Day of Rage" as armored
military vehicles sealed off main squares
in the Egyptian capital and troops with
machineguns stood at the ready on key
Witnesses say tear gas was fired and shots
rang out in a main Cairo square Friday,
according to a Reuters report. State
television reported that Egypt's army and
police will deal firmly with any violation of
the law, as security tightened around the
country. The military is deploying to
guard “vital installations, “according to the
state media report.
Reuters also reported that four protesters
were killed in the Egyptian city of Ismailia
Friday, in clashes with security forces,
according to medical sources.
At least 638 people were confirmed killed
and nearly 4,000 wounded in the
violence sparked when riot police backed
by armored vehicles, snipers and
bulldozers smashed the two sit-ins in
Cairo where Morsi's supporters had been
camped out for six weeks to demand his
reinstatement. It was the deadliest day by
far since the 2011 popular uprising that
overthrew autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak
and plunged the country into more than
two years of instability.
The assault triggered running battles and
deadly clashes between security forces
and Morsi supporters elsewhere in Egypt,
prompting the Interior Ministry to
authorize the use of deadly force against
anyone targeting police and state
More than 40 policemen were also killed
on Wednesday and dozens of churches
were attacked as violence swept several
provinces. Many of Morsi's supporters
have voiced criticism at Egypt's Christian
minority for largely supporting the
military's decision to oust him from office.
"We will push until we bring down this
military coup," Muslim Brotherhood
spokesman Gehad El-Haddad wrote on
Twitter, according to Reuters.
Egypt's government, in a statement, called
the demonstrations "terrorist acts" and a
"criminal plan to demolish the pillars of
the Egyptian state," according to Reuters.
The deadly crackdown drew widespread
condemnation from the Muslim world and
the West.
President Obama canceled joint U.S.-
Egypt military exercises scheduled for
next month, although he gave no
indication that the U.S. planned to cut off
its $1.3 billion in annual military aid to
the country. The U.S. administration has
avoided declaring Morsi's ouster a coup,
which would force it to suspend the
military aid.
"While we want to sustain our relationship
with Egypt, our traditional cooperation
cannot continue as usual when civilians
are being killed in the streets and rights
are being rolled back," the U.S. president
said, speaking from his weeklong vacation
in Massachusetts.
Obama said he also ordered his national
security team to "assess the actions taken
by the interim government and further
steps that we may take as necessary with
respect to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship."
Egypt's interim government issued a late
night statement saying the country is
facing "terrorist actions targeting
government and vital institutions" by
"violent militant groups." The statement
expressed "sadness" for the killings of
Egyptians and pledged to work on
restoring law and order.
The statement also warned that Obama's
position "while it's not based on facts can
empower the violent militant groups and
encourage them in its anti-stability
Egypt enjoys "full sovereignty and
independence of its decision," the
statement said.
The biennial Bright Star maneuvers, long a
centerpiece of the deep ties between the
U.S. and Egyptian militaries, have not
been held since 2009, as Egypt grappled
with the fallout from the revolution that
ousted Mubarak. Morsi, a member of the
Muslim Brotherhood, was elected
president in 2012 during Egypt's first
democratic elections.
Also on Thursday, The United Nations
Security Council called on both the
Egyptian government and the Muslim
Brotherhood to exercise "maximum
restraint" and end the violence spreading
across the country. Council members
called for national reconciliation.
Egypt, the Arab world's most populous
nation, has been sharply polarized since
the military removed Morsi from power
on July 3, following days of mass protests
against him and his Brotherhood group.
Millions of Egyptians took to the streets to
demand Morsi step down, accusing him of
giving the Brotherhood undue influence
and failing to implement vital reforms or
bolster the ailing economy.
But Morsi's supporters have remained
defiant, demanding the coup be
overturned. The international community
has urged both sides in Egypt to show
restraint and end the turmoil engulfing
the nation.
Morsi has been held at an undisclosed
location. Other Brotherhood leaders,
including several arrested Wednesday,
have been charged with inciting violence
or conspiring in the killing of protesters.
The Brotherhood's political wing, the
Freedom and Justice Party, said in a
statement Friday that the group is not
backing down and "will continue to
mobilize people to take to the streets
without resorting to violence and without
"The struggle to overthrow this illegitimate
regime is an obligation, an Islamic,
national, moral, and human obligation
which we will not steer away from until
justice and freedom prevail, and until
repression is conquered," the statement
Separately, the Brotherhood's supreme
guide Mohammed Badie, wanted by police
for allegedly inciting violence, warned in a
statement Friday that removing Morsi was
an attempt for the military to take over
and establish a "dictatorship".
The revolutionary and liberal groups that
helped topple Morsi have largely stayed
away from street rallying in recent weeks.
Many Egyptians, while voicing concern
over the scale of the police attacks this
week, are supportive of the government's
decision to the clear out of the
Brotherhood-led sit-ins and protests,
which blocked two main intersections in
the capital and clogged traffic.