At least 60 die as 'Friday of Anger' targets Egyptians backing interim government
By Betsy Hiel
Published: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 7:03 p.m.
CAIRO — An Islamist “Friday of Anger” ignited clashes here and across Egypt, leaving 60 dead and more churches, police stations and government buildings burned.
The violence, which shows no sign of abating, had the capital ringing with gunfire and Egyptians on edge. More neighborhoods set up committees to protect homes, shops and residents from attacks.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies organized the day's demonstrations to protest the clearing of their two sit-ins by police and soldiers — a confrontation that left nearly 700 dead on Wednesday.
The Islamists plan a week of protests against the interim government installed by the military, which deposed Mohamed Morsy, a Brotherhood figure, as president.
“This certainly is a battle to determine the near-future of this country,” said Hisham Kassem, a media publisher and longtime human-rights activist.
On state-run television, a banner in English read “Egypt Fighting Terrorism,” while an independent channel posted a similar message: “The word of the people against extremism.”
Twenty-eight Islamist marches tried to converge downtown. As one of those crossed an overpass in the upscale island-neighborhood of Zamalek, marchers held up posters of Morsy or opened Qurans, chanting: “There is no god but Allah, and Sisi is the enemy of Allah” — a reference to Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, the military chief who led Morsy's ouster.
Angry residents and police firing tear gas blocked the large march as it crossed the Nile. Gunfire thundered across the fabled river as the opposing sides pushed back and forth.
Some of that gunfire clearly came from Islamists, and photojournalists and Egyptian state TV filmed armed men among the pro-Morsy marchers.
As bullets zipped into the river, angry neighborhood residents cursed the Brotherhood before scrambling to safety.
“The Brotherhood are terrorists,” said one man trying to fish from the riverbank. Another accused them of “trying to destroy the country.”
Security forces said 52 civilians and eight policemen were killed in running street battles.
Egyptian officials tried to counter international criticism of the violence by directing foreign journalists to Internet videos of church burnings, Islamists using weapons or raising the black flag of al-Qaida, and other jihadi groups protesting downtown.
One video showed an armed Morsy supporter near the Four Seasons Hotel in Garden City, just blocks from the U.S. Embassy.
For a second day, the embassy urged Americans to leave Egypt.
The state media agency, MENA, said more than five cars “driven by masked men have reached Ramses Square to distribute firearms.”
In an Internet posting in English, the Brotherhood condemned attacks on churches. Yet one chapter of its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, posted an Arabic screed against Christians on its Facebook page.
It accused Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros of involvement in Morsy's ouster, adding: “Burning houses of worship is a crime. And for the (Christian) Church to declare a war against Islam and Muslims is a crime. For every action there is a reaction.”
Some Muslims and Christians joined to protect churches, said Ishak Ibrahim, a religious-freedom researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. But he reported more than five Christians had been killed in recent attacks on provincial churches.
In Suez and other regions, the military halted protests. In parts of Upper Egypt, however, large rallies occurred.
At dusk, an older man sat on a chair in Cairo's Zamalek section, a shotgun across his lap, as gunfire echoed across the capital. By nightfall, with a military curfew in effect, the normally loud and crowded streets fell eerily quiet and deserted.
But a military helicopter thumped overhead, as flames burst from the windows of a large downtown building set ablaze during the day.
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.
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley
- Primanti’s manager admits stealing $30,000 from restaurants
- Ex-Sandusky lawyer investigated in divorce case
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Penn State’s Franklin cherishes memories of time spent in Pittsburgh
- Report: Man falls from roof of Bentleyville business
- NTSB: Corroded pipe, lack of inspections led to gas explosion
- Pitt’s Patterson second-team All-ACC, Zanna honorable mention