Morsy backers killed in Egypt clashes
By Betsy Hiel
Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
CAIRO — The worst clash since the July 3 ouster of Egypt's president killed scores of Islamists on Saturday, raising concern of bloodier days ahead in the world's most populous Arab nation.
Police and Islamist backers of deposed President Mohamed Morsy collided hours after opposing sides held rallies here and in other cities.
Islamists claimed more than 127 of their followers were killed and thousands injured.
Health ministry officials reported 65 deaths.
Egypt is a leading influence on an Arab world that is in turmoil, from the gulf states to North Africa. Its stability is crucial to the United States because of its key role in battling Islamic terrorism, maintaining peace with Israel and providing secure shipping through the Suez Canal.
Many Egyptians have expected a bloody showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies, who lost parliamentary control when Morsy fell. Clashes across the deeply divided nation in the past three weeks have killed more than 200 and injured thousands.
The Brotherhood and other Islamists, encamped at two sites in the capital, have pushed for a confrontation by blocking busy thoroughfares in recent days.
Residents in those areas have asked police to remove the protesters. An interior ministry official said on Friday that would be done “soon” and “legally.”
The military called for national demonstrations on Friday as a public mandate against “violence and terrorism.” The Brotherhood staged competing marches, with only minor incidents reported in the capital.
But after midnight, Islamists marched on the October 6th Bridge, a major traffic artery.
“We were going to march to the bridge and return,” said Hussam Badawi, 25. “We saw the police … and chanted, ‘Peaceful, peaceful.' ”
Police fired tear gas and pellets, he said, then used live ammunition after three hours of fighting: “We had no weapons but bricks. I saw two brothers falling from bullets with my own eyes.”
“They could have shot at the feet” of marchers, said Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Araf, but “they were shooting to kill — in the head, neck and chest.”
He said hospitals refused to treat the wounded, and ambulances were blocked.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim dismissed those accusations and said the Brotherhood exaggerated the death toll.
He said the Brotherhood tried to block “this vital bridge” before engaging in a firefight with nearby residents that killed 21 people. Police tried to stop that battle with tear gas, he said; 14 officers were hurt, two of them shot in the head.
In an emotional press conference at one encampment, Brotherhood officials displayed shotgun shells and tear gas canisters allegedly fired by police; a gruesome video showed footage of the clash, the dead and injured — prompting some followers to weep or to chant, “Only God can help us.”
Others remained defiant. Veiled women chanted, “Oh martyrs, your blood frees the country,” and a group of men waved sticks and danced to a song with lyrics describing Egypt as Islamic.
Many of them vowed to maintain their sit-in until Morsy is reinstated – or, as Nadia Miselhi, 45, said, become “martyrs … defending freedom against the military coup.”
A tent displayed a poster of dead Morsy supporters and a warning: “Paid for by U.S. tax dollars.”
“America does this, and then they send their spies,” one man said as he passed a foreign journalist.
As night neared, the area between the encampment and the contested bridge became an eerie no man's land of garbage, makeshift barricades, bloodstained pavement and Morsy posters.
Soldiers stood in a nearby viewing stand — where Islamists assassinated then-President Anwar Sadat in 1981 — as men checked identity papers of those walking toward the Brotherhood sit-in.
One bearded man angrily shouted at a foreign female journalist: “Cover up! You are going to Islam!”
Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review's foreign correspondent. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Expert: KO doesn’t mean ‘worst’ concussion for Pens’ Orpik
- Penguins’ Neal suspended five games for Marchand hit
- UPMC doctor killed trying to help at 50-vehicle pileup
- Steelers WR Brown says ‘I thought I had it clean’ after wild, near-miss finish
- Kovacevic: Enough of these Steelers already
- City Council approves 32 amendments to proposed 2014 budget
- Aliquippa’s Henry picks West Virginia over Pitt
- Woman sues California borough, police chief, claims they failed to protect her from sexual assault
- Penguins players are not out looking for fights
- Sewickley Township worker accused of threats seeks pre-trial program
- Lawmakers accuse UPMC of political-style attacks over insurance bill