Bloodshed, Death Toll Mount as ‘Day of Rage’ Rallies Rip Across Egypt
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JEFFREY BROWN: They called it a day of rage in Egypt, and it lived up to its name. The bloodletting claimed at nearly 100 more lives, as thousands of Islamist protesters confronted security forces. That’s on top of more than 600 killed Wednesday.
We have two reports, beginning with Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News in Cairo.
Be advised: Some of the images may be disturbing.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: They chanted for the downfall of military rule, and they marched in their thousands. This was Ramses Square in Cairo this afternoon, in a haze of tear gas and the air ringing with a sound of automatic gunfire.
MAN: Fire. Gunfire.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: The downtown area of Cairo, the biggest city in the Arab world, is now as dangerous as a war zone. And as for the Arab spring of 2011, well, that seems like a very long time ago.
Some protesters threw petrol bombs towards a police station.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: We heard gunfire coming from the police station’s direction. The demonstrators wheeled in a street stall as a barricade to keep the security forces out. They knew the police had been authorized to use live ammunition. It wasn’t enough, though, to keep them away.
MAN: We have no guns. We have no — we have water, only water. We have our bodies, only our bodies.
MAN: They have stolen our votes, and we want our votes back. And we are not going to leave the streets, whatever happens, before getting the democracy back.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: State television showed men with Kalashnikovs amid the crowd on a nearby overpass. The deposed president’s supporters were accused of doing the firing, but we couldn’t tell.
What we saw was a stream of motorbikes acting as ambulances for the dead and injured, and angry Egyptians accusing their military leader of murder.
MAN: Sisi, you are a killer! You are a killer! You’re a killer? Sisi, we will kill you! We slaughter you through!
JONATHAN RUGMAN: A few hundred meters from the square, a crowd was desperate to show us a mosque transformed into a hospital. Everywhere we looked, frantic attempts to keep the injured alive.
This is how today’s so-called march of anger called by the Muslim Brotherhood has ended. We counted 12 dead during our visit, but that figure has more than doubled since. And while some helpers ferried in tanks of oxygen, others ferried the bodies away.
MAN: We haven’t expected the guns to shoot out again. We are trying to get our rights, and they are shooting us again. I don’t know why.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: Parts of Cairo are echoing with gunfire tonight, and dozens have been killed. The outside world has again called for restraint, but, right now, there seems no exit from Egypt’s deadly spiral of violence.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The violence also spread again to other cities in Egypt.
Our second report is narrated by Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News. And, again, it contains some graphic images.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Muslim Brotherhood supporters marched down the Corniche in Alexandria, where the movement is traditionally strong. They carried a banner of General Sisi, Egypt’s de facto leader, with an Israeli Star of David. “Traitor,” they cried.
“Leave, leave,” they chanted at the government, waving pictures of their ousted President Mohammed Morsi and shouting that they were ready and willing to be martyred for their cause.
MAN (through interpreter): The security forces are doing what the Mubarak regime did, burning churches and blaming it on the Brotherhood.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Earlier in the day, soldiers in armored vehicles patrolled the Corniche. Brotherhood supporters had burned down the judges club overnight. They see the judiciary as enemies, too.
Some of the worst violence occurred in Ismailia, where Brotherhood supporters walked straight up to armored vehicles. The pictures are upsetting. The soldiers showed no mercy. They shot to kill. The young men braved small-arms fire, shouting, “We’re peaceful.” Some ran away as bullets pursued them, but others went straight into danger to rescue their comrade.
Is this the face of Egypt from now on, youths roaming Alexandria, setting tires on fire, turning a ramshackle resort into an urban wasteland, and Ismailia, the city of beauty and enchantment, where the Brotherhood was founded, a war zone where citizens fight the army as the nation descends into disaster?