ISLAMABAD – Jamiat Ulema -e-Islam (Fazl) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman has strongly condemned the Egyptian Army for arresting President Morsi and killing citizens, saying that Egypt is being pushed towards civil war. In a press statement issued here on Saturday, Fazl said that Army intervention has not only derailed democracy but has also led to the arrest of elected President Morsi for petty charges, which is against all international norms of human rights and democratic ideals.
He also criticised the role of the US, saying that it did not even call the intervention as coup and still providing military and material support to the military. He said that due to the US policies, which promoted dictatorial regimes in Middle East and Pakistan in the past, extremism and radicalisation has increased manifold. He also observed that role of all human rights groups, specially the UN and OIC, is a matter of great concern for the people who believe in democracy and moderation. He said that the role of the US and Egyptian army will strengthen the hands of extremists around the world. He said that they will not only consume anti-democratic forces but will also consume moderate religion political parties.
He strongly condemned the killing of ordinary citizens and demanded immediate release of President Morsi.
Egypt: ‘Third Square’ protesters reject army, Morsi
At least 100 were killed and hundreds injured July 27 as Egyptian security forces attacked Muslim Brotherhood supporters holding a public sit-in at a square outisde Rabaa al-Adawia mosque in northwest Cairo, bringing the toll in repression since the fall of President Mohammed Morsi to over 200 dead. Five were also killed in Alexandria the previous day, and rival demonstrations were reported from cities and towns throughout the country. Army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has issued a call for the Brotherhood’s opponents to take to the streets in mass demonstration of support for the military. But with Rabaa al-Adawia square occupied by Morsi supporters and Tahrir Square now held by Morsi opponents responding to al-Sisi’s call, a relatively small group of protesters established a vigil in Giza’s Sphinx Square, calling themselves the “Third Square" movement. Their banners and flyers call for Egyptians to reject both Morsi’s “religious fascism" and “the army’s continued political role."
Fatma Ramadan, a member of the executive committee of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU), has issued a statement dissenting from the EFITU’s decision to support al-Sisi’s call for pro-military demonstrations. She writes:
Did not the military forcibly end your strikes in Suez, Cairo, Fayyoum, and all over Egypt ? Did not the military arrest many of you and subject you to military trials just for practising your right to organize, strike, and protest peacefully? Have they not adamantly worked to criminalize this right through legislation banning all Egyptians from organizing peaceful protests, strikes, and sit-ins?
Then came Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, who followed in Mubarak’s footsteps with dismissals, arrests, and smashing strikes by force. It was Mursi who sent police dogs against workers at Titan Cement in Alexandria, acting through the Minister of the Interior and his men. The same police and army officers who are right now being carried shoulder-high are killers, the killers of honest, young Egyptians…
Today, we have been asked to go out and authorize Al-Sisi’s killing spree, and we find all three trade union federations in agreement: the government’ Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), the Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress (EDLC), and the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) (of which I am a member of the Executive Committee)… We are thus faced with jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. The Muslim Brotherhood committed crimes and it must be held accountable and prosecuted for them, just like police and army officers and men of the Mubarak regime must be held accountable and prosecuted for their crimes. Do not be fooled into replacing a religious dictatorship with a military dictatorship.
Morsi is still being held incomunicado, and has now been charged with espionage (ostensibly on behalf of the Palestinian Hamas movement) and murder. Prosecutors say he will likely go the same prison as ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak. (Reuters, Reuters, LAT, AFP, BBC News, July 27; WP, BBC News, Ahram, Al Jazeera, MENA Solidarity Network, July 26)
<nyt_headline version="1.0″ type=" “>Egypt’s Ruling Military Kills Scores of Islamists at Rally
By KAREEM FAHIM and MAYY EL SHEIKH
CAIRO — The Egyptian authorities unleashed a ferocious attack on Islamist protesters early Saturday, killing at least 72 people in the second mass killing of demonstrators in three weeks and the deadliest attack by the security services since Egypt’s uprising in early 2011.
The attack provided further evidence that Egypt’s security establishment was reasserting its dominance after President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster three weeks ago, and widening its crackdown on his Islamist allies in the Muslim Brotherhood. The tactics — many were killed with gunshot wounds to the head or the chest — suggested that Egypt’s security services felt no need to show any restraint.
“They had orders to shoot to kill,” said Gehad el-Haddad, a Brotherhood spokesman. The message, he said, was, “This is the new regime.”
In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry called this “a pivotal moment for Egypt” and urged its leaders “to help their country take a step back from the brink.”
The killings occurred a day after hundreds of thousands of Egyptians marched in support of the military, responding to a call by its commander for a “mandate” to fight terrorism. The appeal by Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, who has emerged as Egypt’s de facto leader since the military removed Mr. Morsi from power, was widely seen as a green light to the security forces to increase their repression of the Islamists.
In the attack on Saturday, civilians joined riot police officers in firing live ammunition at the protesters as they marched toward a bridge over the Nile. By early morning, the numbers of wounded people had overwhelmed doctors at a nearby field hospital.
One doctor sat by himself, crying as he whispered verses from the Koran. Nearby, medics tried to revive a man on a gurney. When they failed, he was quickly lifted away to make room for the many others.
With hundreds of people gravely wounded, the toll seemed certain to rise, and by Saturday evening had already surpassed the more than 60 deaths on July 8, when soldiers and police officers fired on pro-Morsi demonstrators.
As the deaths have mounted, more than 200 since the government was overthrown, hopes have faded for a political solution to the standoff between the military and the Brotherhood, whose leaders, including Mr. Morsi, are imprisoned or preparing themselves for jail.
In a televised news conference hours after the clash, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim absolved his men of any responsibility and made no mention of the high death toll. His officers, he said, “have never and will never shoot a bullet on any Egyptian.”
He blamed Mr. Morsi’s supporters for the violence, saying they planned to disrupt traffic on the bridge. “We had to stop them,” Mr. Ibrahim said. The protesters threw rocks and fired weapons, he said, and a large number of officers were wounded, including two who were shot in the head.
Mr. Ibrahim also suggested that further repression was imminent as the authorities prepared to break up sit-ins that thousands of Mr. Morsi’s supporters have held for weeks.
“God willing, it will be dispersed in a way that doesn’t cause many losses,” he said. “But God willing, it must end.”
Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is vice president in the interim government, added a rare note of support for the Brotherhood from the country’s new leaders, writing on Twitter that he condemned the “excessive use of force” and was trying to “end the standoff in a peaceful manner.”
Mr. Kerry called on Egypt’s leaders to “respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression” and to open an inclusive political dialogue.
“Over two years ago, a revolution began,” he said in a statement. “Its final verdict is not yet decided, but it will be forever impacted by what happens right now.”
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke by telephone with General Sisi, urging him to exercise restraint and “take steps to prevent further bloodshed and loss of life,” according to a Pentagon statement.
The violence broke out on Friday night after a day of large, competing marches by supporters of Mr. Morsi and his opponents expressing solidarity with the military. At least eight people died on Friday, but there was not the kind of widespread violence that many had feared after General Sisi’s speech on Wednesday calling for demonstrations in support of the military.
That changed around 10:30 p.m., when groups of Mr. Morsi’s supporters left their vast encampment in Nasr City, marching toward the central October 6 Bridge, where police officers were stationed, according to witnesses. Several people said that the protesters had left the camp because it had become overcrowded, and that people had fanned out from the encampment along several boulevards. Others said they had planned to march through a nearby neighborhood.
The group that came under attack walked down Nasr Street, past the reviewing stand where President Anwar el-Sadat was assassinated in 1981, and the pyramid-shaped memorial to the unknown soldier across the street, toward the bridge.
“We didn’t have any weapons,” said Mohamed Abdulhadi, who said he had joined the march, which was “not violent.” More than 10 other witnesses confirmed his assertion.
The Interior Ministry released a video after the killings that it said showed Morsi supporters firing birdshot at the police and damaging property. It showed protesters throwing rocks, unidentified people wandering into traffic, and one man pulling out what appeared to be a silver pistol and firing it, though it is not clear who the man was, or which side of the fighting he was on.
Mohamed Saeed, an agricultural engineer, said he and some of the other protesters had started to exchange words with the officers before even reaching the bridge.
“You know how it is,” he said. “Some of us said some provocative things, and the tear gas started.”
The protesters threw rocks, and the confrontation quickly escalated, Mr. Saeed and others said. The Morsi supporters feared that the police were preparing to storm their encampment, so they started building brick walls on the road to “to prevent them from coming into the sit-in,” Mr. Saeed said.
An hour and a half after the clashes started, the police and their allies started firing live ammunition and pellet guns, Mr. Saeed said. Other witnesses said they had seen snipers on the roofs of nearby buildings.
Ahmed Hagag was there with his best friend, Ashraf. They had rushed to the front line bearing aid for their comrades, but it was useless given the kind of violence under way. “We went there with masks and vinegar,” he said, in preparation for the tear gas.
Ashraf, who had been “yearning for martyrdom,” did not want to stand in the back, Mr. Hagag said. “So it happened, and a bullet ended up in his heart.”
As the sun rose, a bullet struck Mr. Saeed’s right kidney. An hour later, a path that the protesters had cleared to the field hospital had become a highway for the wounded, who came in ambulances, on motorcycles and in the arms of friends.
A taxi drove by with a shattered rear window, pierced by a bullet that struck the driver in the neck. He declined offers of help and kept driving, blood running onto his shirt.
Before the police retreated around 8 a.m., a spray of gunfire had come from their positions, sending people scrambling for cover and setting off a new cavalcade of ambulances.
In the makeshift morgue at the field hospital, 29 bodies lay in a row covered with white sheets. A medic, Mahmoud al-Arabi, said the wounds were disturbing for their accuracy: many of the dead had been shot in their head, chest or neck.
Their shrouds were marked with names and sometimes the cities they had traveled from to join the Islamists in their square: Saadawy Mohamed from Beni Suef, Khaled Abdel al-Nasser from Qena.
Later Saturday, the Health Ministry said 72 people had been killed. The Brotherhood said it had counted 66 dead and classified an additional 61 people as “clinically dead.”
The violence left the Brotherhood in an increasingly dire position, facing the prospect of a ban of the kind it suffered before the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak. Its options at this point are limited, said Samer S. Shehata, a professor of Arab politics at the University of Oklahoma and an authority on the group.
“They really can’t resort to violence,” he said. “They don’t have a militia and it runs against all their rhetoric and recent history.”
Mr. Ibrahim, the interior minister, raised the prospect of a new threat to the Brotherhood, saying Saturday that he was reconstituting a state security agency that under Mr. Mubarak was responsible for monitoring Islamists and known for carrying out torture and forced disappearances. Without security agencies that have a political focus, Mr. Ibrahim said, “the security of the country doesn’t work.”
Robert F. Worth contributed reporting.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: July 27, 2013
A summary that appeared briefly with an earlier version of this article misstated the death toll. Dozens of people have been killed by the Egyptian authorities, not hundreds.
Egypt minister: Pro-Morsi protesters to be dispersed
Egypt’s interior minister has warned supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi that they will “soon" be dispersed from a sit-in in Cairo.
Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said lawsuits filed by residents near a mosque provide legal cover for the clearance.
But thousands of protesters insist they will stay at Rabaa al-Adawia mosque.
The area was the scene of bloody clashes between security forces and protesters, with doctors estimating that more than 100 people were killed.
The health ministry puts the death toll lower, at 65.
Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has blamed the military for the deaths, accusing soldiers of shooting to kill.
The government has denied this, insisting security forces only used tear gas, not live rounds.
The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville in Cairo says this appears to be untrue given the severity and number of injuries.
Tear gas, shotgun pellets and bullets were all in evidence during the fighting, he says.
Meanwhile, two leading figures who backed the army’s removal of Mr Morsi, on 3 July, have condemned Saturday’s killings.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar mosque – the highest Sunni Muslim authority in Egypt – has called for an investigation, while the vice-president of the interim government, Mohamed ElBaradei, said that excessive force had been used.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement that he was deeply concerned about the recent bloodshed.
“In this extremely volatile environment, Egyptian authorities have a moral and legal obligation to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression," he said.
Earlier, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she “deeply deplores the loss of life" on Saturday and urged all sides to halt the violence.
‘Shooting to kill’
Saturday’s clashes, which began before dawn and carried on for several hours, were the most serious bout of violence since Mr Morsi was ousted.
It appears they began after some of the Morsi supporters tried to extend the barricades around their protest site, and the security forces responded.
Ahmed Nashar, a Brotherhood spokesman, witnessed what happened.
“When I arrived, bullets were whizzing past my ears," he told the BBC. “Today was just brutal – people were fired at, with live firearms."
Medics at a nearby field hospital told the BBC they believed about 70% of the casualties were caused by live fire – with many of the victims hit in the chest or head by snipers firing from rooftops.
“They were mostly killed by bullet wounds, especially by snipers, especially in the head. We have nearly cut throats, just like animals," said Doctor Hesham Ibrahim.
Mr Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, has been formally remanded in custody at an undisclosed location for an initial 15-day period, according to a judicial order on Friday.
The order was the first official statement on Mr Morsi’s legal status since he was overthrown.
He has been accused of the “premeditated murder of some prisoners, officers and soldiers" when he and several Muslim Brotherhood leaders were freed during a breakout at a Cairo prison in January 2011.
He is alleged to have plotted attacks on jails in the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak.
Mr Morsi is also accused of conspiring with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and has strong links with the Muslim Brotherhood.
On Saturday, the interior ministry said that Mr Morsi would be transferred to Torah Prison, where Mubarak is being held.
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The Egyptian military has launched an operation in the lawless Sinai peninsula to counter terror and violence against security forces which has intensified in the area since the overthrow of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian media quoted military sources as saying Saturday.
Operation “Desert Storm" comes amid a spike in attacks in Sinai which have killed around 20 policeman and soldiers since Morsi’s ouster on July 3.
During a tour of the southern border on Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Egypt was poised to launch a large counter-terrorism operation against radical Islamic cells in Sinai.
“We receive reports of terror attacks from there every day, and the concern is of course that the barrels will be turned against us,” he said. “We have strengthened our preparations along the border, and here in Eilat, we mobilized an Iron Dome battery in case someone dares fire at the city.”
The defense minister added, “I hope that the Egyptian security forces overcome the challenge of extremist Islam in Sinai. They have beefed up their forces and are preparing for an assault operation. I hope they succeed in dealing with the security situation in their territory.”
Ya’alon stressed that Egypt has inserted additional military forces – including assault helicopters – into Sinai after receiving permission from Israel, in line with the peace treaty between the two countries.
Israel has approved the Egyptian requests because “they really are directing these forces to fight terrorism,” Ya’alon affirmed.
“We see more effective activities by the Egyptian army and security bodies in recent months, particularly in recent weeks following the regime change that occurred,” he added.
The process will likely go on for “longer than what we’d like to have seen,” Ya’alon said.
Egyptian military vehicles in the northern Sinai following a July 4, 2013 attack by Islamist gunmen. (photo credit: image capture from YouTube)
The Egyptian army on Saturday launched a wide-scale operation against terrorists in the northern Sinai, Egyptian media reports said. Operation “Desert Storm,” aimed at eliminating terrorist activity in the peninsula, will reportedly continue over the next two days.
Military personnel from two field armies were reported to have begun blocking roads, bridges and tunnels leading from northern Sinai to other Egyptian regions. The Egyptian Navy and Air Force were also taking part in the operation.
According to Egyptian intelligence, there are at least 500 armed extremists operating in the peninsula, Al Ahram reported.
Since the ouster of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi earlier this month, a wave of violence has swept across the Sinai. On Thursday, terrorists killed two soldiers and wounded four others in a shooting attack on a military checkpoint.
On Wednesday, a car bomb detonated near a police training camp close to the northern Sinai city of el-Arish, killing three militants.
Also in the north of Sinai on Wednesday, Islamists attacked security checkpoints in el-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, killing a civilian and a soldier. Three troops were wounded, security officials said.
Altogether, a total of 17 members of the security forces and at least five civilians have been killed in the area since the July 3 overthrow.
The Muslim Brotherhood has denied playing a part in the escalating violence, but one of the group’s leaders was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that the insurgent attacks would end as soon as “the legitimate president” is freed from detention.