Cairo Clashes Augment Egyptian Crisis
Posted by Alex Mazariegos on Jul 8, 2013 - 1:19:47 PM
EGYPT—Egyptian security forces clashed with Muslim Brotherhood supporters outside the Republican Guard Headquarters on Monday, July 8. The clash occurred during a sit-in in favor of reinstating former President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted a few days prior by the Egyptian army.
Estimates from the Egyptian Health Ministry state that at least 51 died and 435 were injured in Monday's morning incident.
Pro-Morsi protester. Courtesy of Ahram Online.
Conflicting reports muddle the exact cause of the incident. While civilian witnesses and Muslim Brotherhood officials say that military and police forces initiated the attack when protesters were performing dawn prayers, Egyptian security officials say they acted only in defense of the Republican Guard Headquarters, which they believe was under attack. Interior Ministry spokesperson Hani Abdel-Latif and army spokesperson Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali reiterated to reporters that security forces had to react against the attacks; both men agreed that though military and police forces have a responsibility to protect protesters as well as civilians, an assault against an institution will not be tolerated.
The incident occurred in light of President Mohamed Morsi's removal from office on Wednesday, July 3. As
Egypt's first democratically elected president, Morsi faced massive nationwide protests demanding his removal on the first anniversary of his rule.
After the 2011 Egyptian uprising toppled the government of President Hosni Mubarak, Mohamed Morsi beat Ahmed Shafiq, the prime minister under Mubarak, in an election; Morsi took office on June 30, 2012.
Morsi's first year as president is marred with tension and strife. He is the first civilian president; every Egyptian leader since 1952 had membership in the military. A consolidation for power in
Egypt saw President Morsi attempt to control the amount of power exercised by the Egyptian armed forces while issuing a decree in November 2012 granting superiority to presidential decisions over judicial review. The decree was annulled the following month. A weak Egyptian economy and unrest under an Islamist-dominated government further provoked mass protests aimed at the new presidency, and many Egyptians saw his actions as president as proof of a failed promise to govern as a moderate.
These sentiments reached a boiling point on June 30, 2013, when the Tamarod (“rebellion”) campaign organized a mass protest against Morsi. Millions participated in the protest, and in response, the military issued an ultimatum to Morsi: restore stability within 48 hours or the military will intervene. The deadline expired at 2:30 GMT on July 3 when military forces began to crack down on Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Morsi was arrested shortly thereafter.
A mass demonstration in support of "popular will". Courtesy of Ahram Online.
In a statement released on July 8, the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, called for “a peaceful uprising against those who want to steal [the Egyptian people's] Revolution with tanks and armored vehicles, even over the dead bodies of the people.” The FJP also addressed “the international community and international organizations and bodies as well as all the free world to intervene to stop further massacres and reveal the truth about military rule.”
The Egyptian military denies a coup, saying instead that it is enacting the “will of the people.”
Egypt's interim administration under Adly Mansour stated that it had formed a judicial committee to investigate the incident while also urging protesters to not approach any military or “vital” installations.
United States is also closely monitoring the situation, according to State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki. The
United States is “very concerned” about the turn of events in
Egypt, he added.