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News, July 2013
Deadly Clashes, Protests Continue Against Military Coup in Egypt,
July 7, 2013
Egypt's Islamists call for more protests after clashes
© FRANCE 24
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday called for another day of protests against the ousting of Mohammed Morsi by the military Wednesday, after overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of the toppled president left at least 30 dead.
Islamists vowed further protests on Saturday to demand the military restore Egypt's first democratically elected leader, after a night of ferocious clashes that killed 30 people and injured more than 1,100 nationwide.
"The masses will continue their civilised protests and peaceful sit-ins in Cairo until the military coup is reversed and the legitimate president is restored," a coalition of Islamist groups said in a statement.
Despite the talk of peaceful demonstrations, residents in parts of Cairo reported seeing dozens of bearded Islamists armed with machine guns, machetes and sticks on Friday night before the deadly clashes broke out.
Snipers were spotted on rooftops, and medics told AFP they treated some residents of the normally quiet middle-class neighbourhood of Manial for bullet wounds with a downward trajectory.
The backlash came two days after the army toppled Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, underlining the determination of his Muslim Brotherhood to disrupt the military's plan for a political transition until new elections.
Ahead of Saturday's new round of protests, central Cairo was already tense, Gallagher Fenwick, FRANCE 24’s special correspondent in Egypt, noted.
“Tension is running high again in downtown Cairo, especially in Tahrir Square after a festive 48 hours following the ousting of former president Mohammed Morsi, with a lot of Egyptians, perhaps in the opposition, thinking that the Islamist camp was done with,” Fenwick said.
“But the Islamists have proved that they are very determined and that they will follow through with their promise to stay in the streets until their president returns”, he added.
Protesters opposed to Morsi spent the night in Tahrir Square, epicentre of the 2011 revolt that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak, who coincidentally appeared in court on Saturday over the killing of protesters during that uprising.
A bridge leading up to Cairo University – where Morsi supporters have been camped out for 10 days – was littered with rocks and burned out tyres from the confrontations.
The Tamarod movement, which engineered the mass protests against Morsi that culminated in his overthrow, urged its supporters to take to the streets again on Sunday.
Tens of thousands of Morsi's supporters turned out on Friday to protest his ouster in the popularly backed military coup.
Equally large numbers of anti-Morsi protesters also flooded the streets of Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, sparking pitched battles between members of the rival camps.
Police meanwhile pressed a round-up of top Islamists, announcing the arrest of Khairat al-Shater, widely seen as the most powerful man behind Morsi in the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
At least 12 people were killed in Alexandria as Morsi's supporters and opponents fought in the streets, the official MENA news agency said.
In Cairo's Tahrir Square, at least two people were killed when Morsi supporters traded fire with his opponents, state television reported.
The clashes subsided when troops separated the protesters using armoured vehicles.
"We are not taking sides. Our mission is to secure the lives of protesters," military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Aly told AFP.
Four protesters were killed outside the Republican Guard headquarters after breaking away from a pro-Morsi demonstration, MENA reported.
In the restive north of the Sinai peninsula, armed Morsi supporters stormed the provincial headquarters in the town of El-Arish after a gunfight and raised the black banner of al Qaeda-inspired Islamist militants, an AFP correspondent said.
A spokesman for UN chief Ban Ki-moon quoted him calling for a peaceful end to the crisis. "There is no place for retribution or for the exclusion of any major party or community".
The United States too condemned the clashes and urged all leaders including the army to ensure the bloodletting ended.
"We condemn the violence that has taken place today in Egypt. We call on all Egyptian leaders to condemn the use of force and to prevent further violence among their supporters," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The Islamists accuse the military of conducting a brazen coup against Morsi, after millions called for his ouster on the June 30 anniversary of his first turbulent year in power.
The supreme guide of Morsi's Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, vowed on Friday that members of the Islamist movement would throng the streets in their millions until his presidency is restored.
"Millions will remain in the squares until we carry our elected president, Mohamed Morsi, on our shoulders," Badie told supporters massed outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, before leading chants of "Military coup!" and "Invalid!"
The armed forces have already sworn in Adly Mansour as interim president, and he issued his first decree on Friday, dissolving the Islamist-led parliament and appointing a new intelligence chief.
Morsi "preventively detained"
Morsi, who has not been seen since Wednesday, had issued a defiant call for supporters to protect his elected "legitimacy", in a recorded speech aired hours after his removal.
The military had said it supported the right to peaceful protest, but warned against violence and acts of civil disobedience.
Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced Morsi's overthrow on Wednesday night, citing his inability to end a deepening political crisis.
Military police rounded up senior Brotherhood members, although two were later released.
Morsi himself was "preventively detained", a senior officer told AFP.
A judicial source said the prosecution would on Monday begin questioning Brotherhood members, including Morsi, for "insulting the judiciary".
Morsi's rule was marked by accusations that he concentrated power in the hands of the Brotherhood.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Deadly clashes in Egypt as Islamists fight Morsi ouster
Some 30 people were killed across Egypt on Friday as Islamists opposed to the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi took to the streets to vent their fury. On the same day, police arrested leading Muslim Brotherhood members for “inciting violence”.
Enraged Islamists pushed back Friday against the toppling of President Mohammed Morsi, as tens of thousands of his supporters took to the streets vowing to win his reinstatement and clashed with their opponents in violence that killed 30 and drove the divided nation toward an increasingly dangerous showdown.
In a battle on a bridge over the Nile River in Cairo, gunfire rang out and flames leaped from a burning car as the rival camps threw volleys of stones and fireworks at each other. Military armored vehicles raced across the bridge in a counterattack on Morsi’s supporters.
The clashes accelerated after the supreme leader of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood defiantly proclaimed that his followers would not give up street action until the return of the country’s first freely elected president, swept out of power days earlier by the military. Morsi opponents called out the public to defend against the Brotherhood, deepening the battle lines.
In scenes of mayhem, troops opened fire on peaceful pro-Morsi protesters.
Islamists threw one opponent off a rooftop.
“God make Morsi victorious and bring him back to the palace,” Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie proclaimed before cheering supporters at a Cairo mosque in his first appearance since the overthrow. “We are his soldiers we defend him with our lives.”
Badie said it was a matter of honor for the military to abide by its pledge of loyalty to the president, in what appeared to be an attempt to pull it away from its leadership. “Your leader is Morsi. ... Return to the people of Egypt,” he said.
“Your bullets are not to be fired on your sons and your own people.”
Hours later, Badie’s deputy, Khairat el-Shater, considered the most powerful figure in the organization, was arrested in a Cairo apartment along with his brother on allegations of inciting violence, Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif told The Associated Press.
After the speech, a large crowd of Islamists surged across 6th October Bridge over the Nile toward Tahrir Square, where a giant crowd of Morsi’s opponents had been massed all day.
Battles broke out there and near the neighboring state TV building. Pro-Morsi youth shielded themselves from flying stones and fireworks with sheets of barricaded metal. A car burned at the top of an exit ramp amid the sounds of automatic weapons and shotguns.
“They are firing at us, sons of dogs! Where is the army?” one Morsi opponent shouted as another was brought to medics with his jeans soaked in blood from leg wounds. At least three people were killed at the bridge.
The fighting ended when at least seven armored personnel carriers sped across the bridge, chasing away the Morsi supporters. Young civilians jumped onto the roofs of the APCs, shouting insults at the Islamists and chanting, “The people and army are one hand.”
Across the country, clashes erupted as Morsi supporters tried to storm local government buildings or military facilities, battling police or Morsi opponents. At least 30 people were killed throughout the day in Egypt, with 210 wounded, Heath Ministry official Khaled el-Khatib told The Associated Press.
Islamists descended on anti-Morsi rally, opening fire with guns in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria, where at least 12 people were killed, mostly Morsi opponents, emergency services official Amr Salama said. One man was stabbed and thrown from the roof of a building by Morsi supporters after he raised an Egyptian flag and shouted insults against the ousted president, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.
Five policemen killed by militants in shootings around the
Sinai city of el-Arish, according to security officials speaking
on condition of anonymity because not authorized to talk to the
“The voices of all who are protesting peacefully must be heard – including those who welcomed the events of earlier this week and those who supported President Morsi,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “The Egyptian people must come together to resolve their differences peacefully.”
Col. Ahmed Ali, a spokesman for the armed forces, said the Muslim Brotherhood was trying to “pick a fight” with the army and “drag it to a clash in order to send a message to the West that what happened in the country is a coup and that the military is cracking down on the peaceful protesters.”
That mirrored a statement from an umbrella group of Morsi opponents – including the National Salvation Front and youth groups. The group urged the public to take to the streets immediately “to defend popular legitimacy” against what they called a “malicious plot” by the Brotherhood.
Islamists vowed to show by their numbers and the turmoil that the military had made a mistake by removing Morsi on Wednesday night. The action followed mass demonstrations for four days this week by the president’s opponents in the biggest rallies the country has seen.
“The military got itself in a trap by taking one side. Now they see the masses in the streets and now they realized that there are two peoples,” Hamada Nassar, a figure from the hard-line former militant group, Gamaa Islamiya, told AP.
An interim president – senior judge Adly Mansour – was sworn in Thursday, and a Cabinet of technocrats is to be formed to run Egypt until new elections can be held, although officials have not said when that will be. Mansour dissolved the interim parliament – the upper house of the legislature – which was overwhelmingly dominated by Islamists and Morsi allies. He also named the head of General Intelligence, Rafaat Shehata, as his security adviser.
The Islamists called rallies Friday to express their outrage at Morsi’s ouster. The Brotherhood has said it will not work with the new military-backed leadership, and Morsi’s supporters say the armed forces have wrecked Egypt’s democracy by carrying out a coup against an elected president.
They accuse loyalists of former leader Hosni Mubarak, ousted in 2011, and liberal and secular opposition parties of turning to the army for help because they lost the election to Islamists. Many also see it as a conspiracy against Islam.
The turmoil began in the afternoon when army troops opened fire as hundreds of his supporters marched on the Republican Guard building in Cairo. That site is where Morsi was staying when he was toppled before being taken into military custody at an undisclosed location.
The crowd approached a barbed wire barrier where troops were standing guard. When one person hung a sign of Morsi on the barrier, soldiers tore it down and told the crowd to stay back. A protester put up a second sign, and the soldiers opened fire, according to an AP photographer.
A protester fell dead with a gaping, bleeding wound in the back of his head, while others were bloodied and wounded. Witnesses told AP Television News at the scene that men in plain clothes fired the lethal shots. The Health Ministry said a total of four were killed at the site, though it was not known how all died.
Protesters threw stones at the troops, who responded with volleys of tear gas. Many of those injured had wounds typical of birdshot. The BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, was hit by birdshot in the head as he covered the clashes but said his injuries were superficial.
Badie made his appearance three hours later on a stage in front of tens of thousands of Islamists massed at Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque, not far from the Republican Guard building.
Morsi “is my president and your president and the president of all Egyptians,” Badie proclaimed, thrusting his arms in the air, as a military helicopter circled low overhead.
The gray-haired Badie is a revered figure among the Brotherhood’s followers, who swear an oath of absolute obedience to him – to “hear and obey.”
The circumstances of his appearance were a mystery. Security officials had said Badie was taken into custody from a villa on the Mediterranean coast soon after Morsi’s removal Wednesday night and flown to Cairo, part of a sweep that netted at least five other senior Brotherhood figures and put around 200 more on wanted lists.
Just before his speech, the Brotherhood’s political party said on its webpage that Badie had “been released.” On stage, however, Badie denied he had been arrested. There was no immediate explanation from security officials.
Authorities also announced the release of Saad Katatni, head of the Brotherhood’s political arm the Freedom and Justice Party, as well as one of Badie’s deputies, Rashad Bayoumi, pending further investigation.
Fears have been running high over an Islamist backlash to Morsi’s overthrow. Extremist Islamist groups that gained considerable freedom to operate during Morsi’s year in office have already vowed violence in retaliation.
The first major militant attack came before dawn Friday in the tumultuous Sinai Peninsula, killing at least one soldier. Masked assailants launched a coordinated attack with rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns on the airport in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish, where military aircraft are located. Also hit was a security forces camp in Rafah on the border with Gaza, and five other military and police posts.
One of military’s top commanders, Gen. Ahmed Wasfi, arrived at el-Arish to lead operations there as the army declared a “war on terrorism” in Sinai. A crowd of Morsi supporters tried to storm the governor’s office in the city but were dispersed by security forces.
On the night of Morsi’s ouster, jihadi groups rallied in el-Arish, vowing to fight. “War council, war council,” a speaker shouted, according to online video of the rally. “No peacefulness after today.”
Islamic militants hold a powerful sway in the lawless northern Sinai. They are heavily armed with weapons smuggled from Libya and have links with militants in the neighboring Gaza Strip, run by Hamas. After the attack, Egypt indefinitely closed its border crossing into Gaza, sending 200 Palestinians back into the territory, said Gen. Sami Metwali, director of Rafah passage.
“The old regime has come back ... worse than before,” said Ismail Abdel-Mohsen, an 18-year-old student at the mosque rally. He described the interim president as “the military puppet.”
“After sunset, President Morsi will be back in the palace,” they chanted. “The people want God’s law. Islamic, Islamic, whether the army likes it or not.”
Many held copies of the Quran in the air, and much of the crowd had the long beards of ultraconservative men or encompassing black robes and veils worn by women.
One protester shouted that the sheik of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric who backed the military, was “an agent of the Christians” – reflecting a sentiment that the Christian minority was behind Morsi’s ouster.
In southern Egypt, Islamists attacked the main church in the city of Qena. In the town of Dabaiya near the city of Luxor, a mob torched houses of Christians, sending dozens seeking shelter in a police station.
Morsi supporters and opponents clash in Cairo
Clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of ousted president Mohammed Morsi near Tahrir Square, shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood leader addressed a rally Friday. The health ministry reported over a dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries.
• Clashes between opponents and supporters of deposed
president Mohammed Morsi broke out near Cairo’s Tahrir Square on
Friday after a crowd of Morsi supporters surged over a Nile
bridge toward the square, where anti-Morsi demonstrators have
been camped. State TV said at least five people were killed in
Egypt arrests supreme leader of Muslim Brotherhood
The supreme leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, has been arrested and taken to Cairo on a military helicopter, security officials say. Ousted president Mohammed Morsi was a member and former leader of the Islamist movement.
By News Wires (text)
France 24, July 7, 2013
Egypt's army rounded up the leadership of ousted president Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday as a top judge took office after an abrupt end to the Islamist's first year in power.
Morsi's government unravelled late on Wednesday after the army gave him a 48-hour ultimatum in the wake of massive demonstrations since June 30 against his turbulent rule.
Military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced Morsi's overthrow, citing his inability to end a deepening political crisis, as dozens of armoured personnel carriers streamed onto Cairo's streets.
And on Thursday, the army turned the screws on the Brotherhood, with military police arresting supreme leader Mohammed Badie "for inciting the killing of protesters", a security official told AFP.
A judicial source said the prosecution would on Monday begin questioning members of the group, including Morsi, for "insulting the judiciary" as the charges began to pile up.
Other Brotherhood leaders would be questioned on the same charges, including the head of the group's political arm Saad al-Katatni, Mohammed al-Beltagui, Gamal Gibril and Taher Abdel Mohsen.
Morsi and other senior leaders have also been banned from travel pending investigation into their involvement in a prison break in 2011.
The arrests came after chief justice Adly Mansour, 67, was sworn in as interim president at a ceremony broadcast live from the Supreme Constitutional Court.
He will serve until elections at a yet-to-be determined date, said Sisi, as he laid out a roadmap for a political transition that includes a freeze on the Islamist-drafted constitution.
As the world debated whether the military's action amounted to a real coup, analysts agreed that Morsi and his Islamist movement brought about their own rapid demise.
"Morsi and the Brotherhood made almost every conceivable mistake... they alienated potential allies, ignored rising discontent, (and) focused more on consolidating their rule than on using what tools they did have," Nathan Brown wrote on the New Republican website.
A senior military officer said the army was "preventively" holding Morsi and that he might face formal charges linked to his prison escape during the revolt that overthrew dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Morsi had issued a defiant call for supporters to protect his elected "legitimacy", in a recorded speech hours after the military announced his ouster.
"We had to confront it at some point, this threatening rhetoric," the officer said. "He succeeded in creating enmity between Egyptians."
Morsi's rule was marked by a spiralling economic crisis, shortages of fuel and often deadly opposition protests.
Thousands of protesters dispersed after celebrating wildly through the night at the news of his downfall.
Egypt's press almost unanimously hailed Morsi's ouster as a "legitimate" revolution.
"And the people's revolution was victorious," read the front page of state-owned Al-Akhbar.
Morsi's opponents had accused him of failing the 2011 revolution by concentrating power in the hands of his Brotherhood.
His supporters say he inherited many problems from a corrupt regime, and that he should have been allowed to complete his term, which had been due to run until 2016.
US President Barack Obama said he was "deeply concerned" over Morsi's ouster and urged the army to refrain from "arbitrary arrests".
In May, Washington approved $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt. That was now under review, said Obama, as he called for a swift return to democratic rule.
Germany termed Morsi's ouster by the military "a major setback for democracy in Egypt", while Russia called on all Egyptian political forces to "exercise restraint".
Britain said it will work with the interim authorities despite not supporting the military intervention.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said civilian rule "should be resumed as soon as possible" and that Egypt's future should reflect the people's will, in a statement echoed by NATO.
At least 10 people were killed in clashes in Alexandria and in the southern province of Minya during the night, security officials said.
Already in the week leading up to Morsi's downfall, at least 50 people died in clashes between his supporters and opponents.
In addition to rounding up Brotherhood members, the security forces also turned off broadcasts by the group's television channel, a Morsi aide told AFP.
Egyptian army detains Morsi, promises early elections
Egypt's army said Thursday it was "preventively" holding ousted president Mohammed Morsi in the defence ministry after it overthrew his government just a year after he came to power in the country's first democratic elections.
Egypt’s army said it was “preventively” holding ousted president Mohammed Morsi in the defence ministry on Thursday after it overthrew his Islamist-led government just one year after he became the country’s first democratically elected president.
The military-led coup was hailed by ordinary Egyptians across the country. As army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that Morsi’s rule was over, a huge crowd in Cairo’s Tahrir Square celebrated with singing, dancing and fireworks.
Morsi came under intense pressure after the army issued a 48-hour ultimatum on Monday for him to step down.
The military said Morsi was detained along with a dozen presidential aides after he urged supporters on national television to support his “legitimacy” and resist the military “peacefully”.
“We had to confront it at some point, this threatening rhetoric,” an officer told the AFP news agency. “He succeeded in creating enmity between Egyptians.”
Police also began rounding up leaders of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement. Saad al-Katatni, head of Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party, was put in custody and 300 arrest warrants have been issued for Brotherhood officials.
Some reports said Morsi could potentially face charges related to his escape from jail in 2011, amid the unrest that led to the popular overthrow of long-time Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.
The army also shut down three television channels deemed supportive of the toppled government, including one owned by the Brotherhood and the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera network.
Days before Morsi’s downfall, millions of Egyptians angry about a declining economy and lack of representation in the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government marched across the country.
On several occasions, protesters clashed with Morsi supporters, also out in force, leading to at least 50 deaths.
As General Sisi announced Morsi’s ouster on Wednesday, army tanks and trucks surrounded pro-Morsi rallies in fear of an outbreak of fresh violence.
At least seven of Morsi's supporters were killed in clashes with security forces in Alexandria and the eastern city of Marsa Matrouh, security officials said.
Roadmap but no timetable
The army said that the current constitution drafted by Islamists would be temporarily suspended and would be reviewed in due time. It also promised early elections, in line with a new roadmap Egypt’s opposition helped craft.
Liberal opposition leader Mohamed El Baradei, former head of the UN nuclear watchdog, sat beside Sisi as he announced on state television that Morsi's rule was over.
The army chief, who was appointed defence minister by Morsi himself, was flanked by the head of the Coptic Church and Muslim spiritual leaders, in a well-orchestrated scene meant to reflect broad support for Morsi’s forced exit.
The roadmap is meant to wipe clear a slate of messy democratic reforms enacted since Morsi took over, and is supposed to lead to presidential and parliamentary elections. However, there was no timetable for the new changes.
World leaders expressed concern for the coup that toppled Morsi, with US President Barack Obama calling for a swift return to democratic rule.
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