Egypt Descends Into a Hellish Spiral of Violence and Retribution
Supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi sit in front of barbed wire fencing that blocks the access to the headquarters of the Republican Guard in Cairo on July 8, 2013.
Photo Credit: AFP
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The following transcript is taken from Democracy Now!'s coverage of the continuing political crisis in Egypt.
AMY GOODMAN: At least 42 supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi were shot dead and hundreds were wounded earlier today at a sit-in outside the military barracks where Mohamed Morsi is reportedly being held. The Egyptian military said they opened fire after members of the Muslim Brotherhood tried to storm the Republican Guard. Survivors of the attack said the army began shooting while they were praying and staging a peaceful sit-in.
INJURED PROTESTER: [translated] I was outside the barracks near the entrance, and I saw people coming at me, so I looked over my shoulder so that I could run. But when I faced back to the front, a tear gas canister hit me in the face. Blood was coming out of my face, so I lay on my back. Then a soldier attacked me and hit me with the butt of his rifle on my leg and said, "We have to cleanse the square of all of you today."
AMY GOODMAN: Today’s shooting comes five days after the Egyptian army ousted President Mohamed Morsi and suspended the constitution, following days of mass protests led by the youth group Tamarod. Adly Mansour, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, was sworn in as interim president Thursday. In one of his first moves, Mansour dissolved the upper house of Parliament. He is expected to serve until new elections are held.
The military’s move to oust Morsi was welcomed by protesters in Tahrir Square who described Morsi’s ouster as a continuation of the revolution that took down Hosni Mubarak. But members of the Muslim Brotherhood have vowed to resist what they see as a military coup and crackdown on members of the Brotherhood. Morsi and other top members of the Brotherhood have been detained since Wednesday. Travel bans have been placed on many other Brotherhood leaders. The military also shut down the Muslim Brotherhood’s newspaper and four television stations, including a station run by Al Jazeera.
We go now to Cairo, where we’re joined by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous. His most recent piece in The Nation is called "What Led to Morsi’s Fall—and What Comes Next?"
You can hear his podcast reports of events unfolding at democracynow.org.
Sharif, talk about the latest news out of Egypt. We haven’t spoken to you in a number of days, since Morsi was forced out.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Amy, I’m just coming back from the scene of a bloodbath in Cairo today. As you mentioned, the official count is at least 42 people killed, 300 wounded, many of them killed with live ammunition. I spoke to many eyewitnesses. All of them say that the attack began right at the end of dawn prayer, where pro-Morsi supporters are holding a sit-in, one in Nasr City in—close to Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque, but this attack happened in a kind of a splinter sit-in that is near the headquarters of the Republican Guard, where many Morsi supporters believe that the ousted president himself is being held.
The attack began, as I said, at dawn this morning. Many eyewitnesses said it began with tear gas. They said it was unprovoked. And following the tear gas, it was live ammunition and shotguns. I spoke to many doctors at field hospitals who say many of the injuries are head and chest wounds, which indicates that soldiers were really shooting to kill. The military has said that two of its soldiers have been killed, dozens wounded, six critically. The military—or, state TV has been saying that what provoked the attack was protesters trying to storm the headquarters of the Republican Guard. Both sides have these competing narratives right now. But—and it also says that it has detained 200 protesters who, they say, are armed. So, we’ll have to see what the real nature of events was.