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Egypt's Second Revolution

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51 Dead, 435 Wounded as Brotherhood Supporters Confront Military

July 9th 2013

Cairo Claashes Dec 2012

After a bloody Monday that saw 51 deaths and another 435 injured as security forces outside the Republican Guard headquarters opened fire on Pro-Morsi demonstrators, the interim Egyptian government headed by Adly Mansour announced an accelerated schedule for parliamentary elections to be held early in 2014. Morsi supporters claimed that the shooting began indiscriminately just as they were starting their morning prayers.

However, according to Amr Taha, a local resident of the Heliopolis neighborhood where the Republican Guard headquarters is located, the pro-Morsi crowd had begun trying to force their way into the military installation at about 4 AM, just before shooting began. Taha said that morning prayers had finished at the local mosque, and that he was returning home when he witnessed protesters throwing stones and metal objects at soldiers who were warning the demonstrators to "keep away."

Security officers on duty at the military installation when the shooting started told Al Ahram, anonymously, that protesters were warned repeatedly to keep back over megaphones, but that the protesters continued to advance. Soldiers were initially ordered to use batons to repel the crowd, but these were unsuccessful. Unequivocally stating that it is "out of the question" to allow a mob to attack a military installation, the officers reported that they had no choice but to open fire when under attack. Multiple security officers gave accounts to Al Ahram similar to that of Mr. Taha: all seem to agree with Taha that morning prayers were over at the time the Pro-Morsi crowd attempted to storm the Republican Guard headquarters. According to Taha, "things seemed to be getting out of hand and I had to leave for fear of being hurt. That must have been around 4:15 A.M. or so, and for sure that was long after morning prayers were over."

The deadly confrontation between security forces and the Muslim Brotherhood-backed demonstrators has shocked all sectors of Egyptian society, and is contributing to a sense that more violence is to come. The Salafist Al Nour party, which had supported the removal of Pres. Morsi, withdrew its support for the interim government after the incident, issuing a call for "national reconciliation." A number of reporters at Al Jazeera resigned in protest over the news agency's alleged bias in support of the position of the Islamists demonstrating on behalf of Morsi.

Additional security measures imposed by Egypt's new government resulted in arrests and deportations. Egypt deported 276 Syrian citizens immediately upon their arrival at Cairo airport, because new security restrictions implemented a few hours before their arrival required security permits and proper entry visas. The Syrian refugees arrived without any paperwork because such documentation was not required previously under the Morsi regime. At least one Palestinian citizen of Gaza was arrested in Sinai while attempting to photograph military checkpoints. Security throughout Egypt has been tightened since Morsi's ouster.

The timetable for new elections, announced by interim Pres. Mansour, set forth that no more than 210 days will elapse before new parliamentary elections take place, requiring them to be completed by February 2014 at the latest. Afterward, parliament will be responsible for scheduling the new presidential election that will result in the installation of a permanent government. The edict issued by the Mansour government in a 33-article decree allows for a period of five months to amend the current draft Constitution, which was suspended immediately following Morsi’s removal last week. The draft constitution will then be submitted for a referendum to the electorate prior to the holding of parliamentary elections.

The Muslim Brotherhood has rejected the timetable outright.  Essam Al-Erian, a senior Muslim Brotherhood official denounced the decree in a Facebook post: "a constitutional decree by a man appointed by putchists brings the country back to square one," he said. It remains to be seen whether this latest violence will bring a sobering influence to the country, or cause it to devolve into even more bloodshed--perhaps culminating in outright civil war.

Russell Grayson is a former attorney and faculty member at Rutgers University Graduate School of Management, and serves as a correspondent and editor with The Cutting Edge.

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