Egyptian Military Kills Dozens of Muslim Brotherhood Supporters
At least 51 protesters in Cairo were killed today by the Egyptian army and police after supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi gathered outside a building where demonstrators believe Morsi is being held. The violence was the worst single incident since the military deposed Morsi in a coup that was strongly backed by many Egyptians fed up with Morsi’s rule. More than 300 people were reportedly wounded during the violence.
The violence occurred outside the Republican Guard building in Egypt’s capital city. The Muslim Brotherhood held a sit-in outside the building to protest the July 3 removal of Morsi by the military. Morsi, who was elected in the country's first democratic, post-revolution contest, was arrested by the Egyptian military after he refused to step down from power.
The Islamist party says that as demonstrators were about to finish praying, the military opened fire on them with tear gas, birdshot and live ammunition. But the military denies this, and says that “terrorists” tried to attack the Republican Guard building and that the demonstrators were armed. Witnesses on both sides likewise gave differing accounts. Morsi supporters say they were unarmed and the military opened fire on them without provocation, while opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood say that the demonstrators were armed and opened fire on security forces. The conflicting reports underscore the depth of polarization in Egypt between supporters of Morsi and his opponents.
In response to what the Muslim Brotherhood called a “massacre,” the Salafi Islamist party al-Nour said they were withdrawing from participating in forming the new government.
Today’s killings punctuate a week of violence between opposing sides in Egypt. Cairo has seen dueling protests that have erupted into clashes between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and opponents of the party.
The violence also come as political forces who supported the coup struggle to form a consensus interim government until new elections are held, as the army’s post-Morsi plan stipulates. Over the weekend, reports that the liberal politician Mohamed El Baradei was to be named prime minister were shot down after ultra conservative Islamists protested the decision--underscoring the tenuous nature of the coalition which brought down Morsi.