Egypt: After the ‘massacre’


As violence continues to spike in Cairo, we ask what are the risks of ignoring the different groups within the country.

Egypt is reeling from a massive security assault on supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

Wednesday was the single bloodiest day in Egypt since the 2011 revolution, with hundreds left dead.

The deaths occurred when Egyptian security forces moved in to clear two pro-Morsi sit-ins in the capital Cairo. The protesters were demanding Morsi’s reinstatement as president after he was deposed by the military on July 3.

It is not surprising that it came to a confrontation … We have a military backed government which has basically maintained the status quo for over 60 years, and on the other hand we have an equally experienced Muslim Brotherhood who has been around for more than 80 years now having had to deal with repressions by various regimes.

Carool Kersten, senior lecturer in the study of Islam and the Muslim world at King’s College London

A spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood said the group suffered a “strong blow” after the crackdown, which may be remembered as the worst incident of state violence in the country’s modern history.

The health ministry says more than 500 people – including 43 policemen – were killed nationwide, while the anti-coup alliance puts that figure at above 2,600.

Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood have called the crackdown a “massacre”.

Elsewhere, and in a worrying sign of growing sectarian tension, churches across the country were attacked and in some cases torched.

The tragic events in Egypt have drawn condemnation from around the world. The strongest language came from Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who says Egypt’s leaders should stand trial for what he called a “massacre”.

US Secretary of State John Kerry described the events as “deplorable”, while France and Germany summoned Egyptian ambassadors, and Ecuador recalled its envoy from Cairo.

Denmark has stopped sending development aid to Egypt following the crackdown, while UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the use of violence against the protesters, and Qatar’s foreign ministry denounced the way the army dealt with the sit-ins.

The day’s violence also had repercussions inside Egypt. The interim government defended the crackdown, saying authorities had no choice but to act. But Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei resigned, saying he could not be responsible for one drop of blood that could have been avoided.

So, what are the risks of excluding the Muslim Brotherhood from the political scene in Egypt? And how will the interim government deal with worldwide anger following the crackdown?

To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, is joined by guests: Marwa Maziad, a columnist for Almasry Alyoum and a specialist on civil-military relations in the Middle East; Carool Kersten, a senior lecturer in the study of Islam and the Muslim world at King’s College London; and Zakaryya Abdel-Hady, a political analyst and professor of Islamic thought at Qatar University.

“They are trying to steal the [January] 25th revolution from us; in the 25th revolution we managed to achieve something huge, which people have the right to [raise] their voice without fear, they have the right to demonstrate, they have the right to make rallies. And during Morsi’s regime [of] one year, people were demonstrating throughout the year, nobody was shooting at them, nobody was arresting them.”

– Zakaryya Abdel-Hady, political analyst and professor of Islamic thought at Qatar University.

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