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
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
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

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn