Mohamed Morsi supporters stay on Cairo's streets despite massacre of 72 civilians

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Cairo

Supporters of toppled President Mohamed Morsi vowed to continue defying government threats to clear them from their sprawling tent encampment in eastern Cairo – despite the massacre of scores of protesters by security forces over the weekend.

Inside a mosque at the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo sit-in, a young student showed The Independent a bullet which until the early hours of Sunday morning had been lodged millimetres from his brain.

Abdul Rahman Mohamed, a 19-year-old from Alexandria, had been protesting alongside Mr Morsi’s supporters when they were caught up in Saturday’s bloodbath.

At least 72 civilians are known to have been gunned down by the security services. Doctors said the true figure was significantly higher.

Mr Mohamed, who narrowly avoided losing his sight, was one of the lucky ones – the bullet coming to a rest between his right eye socket and the bridge of his nose.

But if others think he was fortunate, he himself would beg to differ. “This was not luck,” he said, as a nearby friend clutched an X-ray of his skull. “This was from God.”

He said not even a bullet to the head could persuade him to leave the streets. “If they think that this will stop me, then they are dreaming.”

His words came as Egypt’s Prime Minister was granted the authority to give the military extensive powers of arrest, fuelling the concerns of those who are predicting an imminent anti-Islamist crackdown.

For the past month – since the beginning of the popular revolt which led to Morsi’s removal by the army – supporters of the Mr Morsi have been stubbornly defying the government from their tent city in Rabaa al-Adawiya, a neighbourhood of eastern Cairo.

Sprawled along a mile-long criss-cross of wide open avenues – with the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque and nearby speakers’ stage at its centre – the month-long protest has become a thorn in the sides of those who had hoped for a smooth post-insurrection transition.

In spite of Saturday’s killings – and in the face of veiled threats from General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's top commander, to use a popular mandate to crack down on “terrorism” – protesters who spoke to The Independent yesterday appeared defiant.

“We have two choices,” said Ayman Youssef, a physics teacher, as he sheltered from the midday sun beneath the canvas of his tent. “Victory or death. There are no other options.”

Muslim Brotherhood leaders, who feel grievously betrayed by the manner of Morsi’s ousting, continue to spurn the transitional process. An interim President has been selected, the constitution is being rewritten – and yet one of the nation’s key political powers sits sniping from the sidelines, angry and embittered.

“Al-Sisi belongs in a gang,” said Dr Wafaa Hefny, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing who works in the sit-in’s media centre. “They are stealing Egypt and selling it to the Israelis and Americans.”

In the epic Egyptian wrestle over concepts of democratic legitimacy, the powers behind this month’s revolt have cast their campaign as the very essence of democratic empowerment against a would-be theocratic dictatorship.

The Brotherhood, meanwhile, points its tormentors to last year’s election result – that is all the legitimacy they need, members argue.

In the growing climate of anti-Brotherhood hysteria, such finer points of debate have become sullied by vitriol and groundless anti-terrorism smears.

All the while, the encampment at Rabaa al-Adawiya has become a very public symbol of Islamist recalcitrance.

Enormous banners featuring beaming photos of Mr Morsi greet visitors at the main entrances - yet great piles of sandbags stretched across the highway betray an inner sense of siege.

About half a mile west from the main sit-in, at the spot where scores of protesters were gunned down on Saturday, Mohamed Anwar Khalaq stood behind the barricade of brick paving stones which marks the outer limits of the ongoing protest.

The 45-year-old told The Independent his brother had been killed during the July 8 massacre, when more than 50 supporters of Mr Morsi were gunned down by the military outside the headquarters of the Republican Guard.

“They fire their guns because they are paid to do so, but we are here for the sake of our religion,” he said. “I hope for the same fate as my brother.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: We are currently looking for a Geog...

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee