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Towards Civil War in Egypt?

Clashes and violent protests between political factions are getting deadly as the December 15 constitutional referendum date draws near.

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During the clashes, countless activists told me to leave for my own safety. “This is not a foreign friendly demonstration,” one told me. Indeed, Western reporters are not always welcome at such events, and in contrast to my experience at the popular protests in the West Bank, some demonstrators treat those who brandish cameras with extreme hostility. So I could not take photos or shoot video with the kind of frequency I’m accustomed to. When a wave of Brotherhood activists broke through opposition lines, pushing the crowd back and sending hundreds sprinting away from the square, I ran with them. And I did not return. I learned later that a Western photojournalist became trapped in a dress shop as the situation deteriorated.

Each side took casualties and neither appears ready to relent. The polarization is deepening with each passing day. It appears that the fighting will persist as December 15, the date of the constitutional referendum, draws closer. If Morsi’s legitimacy is contingent on his ability to maintain stability, he risks forfeiting it by allowing the kind of violence seen in Roxy Square tonight to occur on his watch.

Mazhar Shaheen, the famed imam known as the “Tahrir Preacher” for his role in the January 25 revolution,  said tonight, “What is happening threatens to lead to a civil war… We should all be ashamed to participate in the collapse of the nation.”

Max Blumenthal is the author of Goliath and Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books, 2009). Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

 
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