News / Middle East

Cairo Protests Canceled Amid Fears of Violence

Egyptian army armoured personnel carriers (APC) are seen stationed in front of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Aug. 18, 2013.
Egyptian army armoured personnel carriers (APC) are seen stationed in front of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Aug. 18, 2013.
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Al Pessin
— Egypt's military chief, General Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, on Sunday threatened renewed force against attacks on government buildings and police stations by anti-government protesters.  But Sissi told military and police officers the army has no intention of seizing power.

He called on Islamic supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi to join the political process, saying "there is room for everyone."

Opponents of the military backed interim government planned, and then canceled, two large protests on Sunday - citing fears of more attacks by security forces.  But some protesters marched in spite of the concerns.

It was Cairo's quietest day since Wednesday, when security forces began their crackdown against supporters of the ousted president, who had been occupying two public squares.  More than 800 people have been killed in the crackdown, including some members of the security forces.

Protest leaders canceled two marches scheduled for Sunday, claiming snipers had been deployed along the planned routes.

Meanwhile, the interim government installed by the military after the July 3rd ousting of President Morsi met, in part, to discuss a proposal to force the country's largest Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, to disband.  Mr. Morsi was a senior Brotherhood official before resigning to run for president, and it still forms the core of his supporters.

The use of force by security units in recent days has further strained the interim government's foreign relations.  Many countries had grudgingly accepted the ousting of the elected president, but are now appalled by the violent crackdown.

On Sunday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy downplayed some tough talk on the subject by U.S. President Barack Obama.

“He did condemn what he considered to be excessive use of force by government forces.  He also condemned violence throughout the events by all parties.  And he also emphasized the importance of the Egyptian-American relationship and his interest in pursuing that.  We will take the speech as a whole and we analyze it in detail," he said. 

Foreign Reactions

The situation in Egypt puts many foreign governments in a quandary.  But at Human Rights Watch, researcher Heba Morayef says there is one thing world leaders should definitely do.

“This is a moment where the international community needs to use whatever leverage it has in its relations with the Egyptian authorities, and in particular with the Egyptian military, because this is an incredibly volatile situation, because we are likely to see more violence.  Whenever the police uses excessive force in response they exacerbate the situation," she said.

Many governments have done just that, and Saturday night's mosque-clearing operation was done mainly by tear gas, without the widespread use of gunfire that resulted in mass casualties during the previous days.

While the activists consider how to resume their protests, families continue to line up at Cairo's morgue, waiting to claim the bodies of their loved ones. 

  • Women activists of Islamic political party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) hold pictures of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi during a pro-Morsi rally in Islamabad on August 18, 2013.
  • Egyptian residents in Japan and their supporters stage a rally in front of the Egyptian embassy in Tokyo to protest the killing of hundreds of anti-government demonstrators, August 18, 2013.
  • Egyptian residents in Japan and their supporters stage a rally in front of the Egyptian embassy in Tokyo to protest police and army crackdown on demonstrators in Egypt, Aug. 18, 2013.
  • Egyptians security forces escort a protester out of the al-Fatah mosque and through angry crowds following a day of fierce street battles that left scores of people dead, near Ramses Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 17, 2013.
  • A protester displays a banner during a rally in front of the Egyptian embassy in Tokyo on August 18, 2013.
  • Malaysian Muslims offer special prayers called "Qunut Nazilah" during a rally to oppose the military overthrow of Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi and subsequent killings, in Kuala Lumpur on August 17, 2013.
  • A girl looks from a car window with a 'wanted' poster of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R), the army chief who ousted Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi (L poster), as she joins a a rally against the crackdown on protesters in Egypt in central London on August 17, 20
  • Demonstrators supporting Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi fly Egyptian flags from their car windows during a rally against the crackdown on protesters in Egypt in central London on August 17, 2013.
  • Women activists of Islamic political party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) hold pictures of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi during a pro-Morsi rally in Islamabad on August 18, 2013.
  • Traders work at the Egyptian stock exchange in Cairo August 18, 2013.
  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi chant slogans during a protest in Ramses Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 16, 2013.
  • Protesters hold signs during a demonstration condemning the recent deadly military crackdown on supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo on August 17, 2013, at the New Mosque in Istanbul.
  • An Egyptian protester reacts as a supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi falls after being shot while standing in front of Egyptian Army tanks during a protest in Ismailiya, Egypt, Aug. 16, 2013.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kings of ASIA from: SE ASIA
August 19, 2013 11:12 AM
Egypt autorities are saying that they will end ''terrorism''......this is how they need to start don't let Mubarak out of jail and By now while the situation has already not stabilized, troops must patrolling the streets and they need to arrests all police units and their commenders that fired and killed people .... . Allegations of torture of prisoners that were brought forward people, including minors and women must STOP and all kilings must STOP


by: Kings
August 19, 2013 10:48 AM
all funds and aid must stop to the general and his mercenries of present Egypt....they must all resign and make new interim government and start to make all inclusive government(brotherhood included) and free elections and let all prisenors go free including brotherhood and Morsi supporters


by: larouchejet from: philippines
August 19, 2013 12:50 AM
First ousting a so called democratically elected president who are calling for a jihad in syria,who also showed support to a "bunch" of misguided rebels or should i say al qaeda led rebels is RIGHT!Now the interim govt is using force to supress a misguided protestors and again i called it RIGHT MOVE.The Egyptian interim govt must not vow to this misguided ralliest for it is clear that this people are being used by terrorist to destabillize your country(egypt).

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