Chaotic Egypt braces for 'Friday of anger'
16 August 2013, 12:51
Cairo - Egypt's Islamists called for a "Friday of
anger" in Cairo after nearly 600 people were killed following a crackdown
on their protest camps, as the UN urged "maximum restraint" from all
"Anti-coup rallies... will depart from all mosques of
Cairo and head towards Ramsis square after [traditional Friday] prayer in
'Friday of Anger'," Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad al-Haddad wrote
The call raised fears of fresh violence after the death toll
from nationwide clashes following Wednesday's operation to clear two protest
camps supporting ousted president Mohammed Morsi rose to 578, making it Egypt's
bloodiest day in decades.
There were renewed attacks on security forces during a tense
day on Thursday, with at least seven soldiers and a policeman killed in the
Sinai peninsula and another police officer killed in the central city of
With the country under a state of emergency and many
provinces hit by night-time curfews, the interior ministry ordered police to
use live fire if government buildings came under attack.
International criticism of the bloodshed poured in and the
United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on the crisis at the
request of France, Britain and Australia.
Afterwards, the Argentine president of the council urged all
parties to exercise "maximum restraint".
Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval, whose country currently
presides over the 15-country body, said member states regretted the loss of
life in Cairo, called for an end to the violence and spoke of the need to
advance "national reconciliation."
US President Barack Obama led the international outrage at
the bloody crackdown, announcing the cancellation of a joint US-Egyptian
"While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt,
our traditional co-operation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being
killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back," he said.
But despite scrapping the Bright Star exercise, which has
been scheduled every two years since 1981, he stopped short of suspending
Washington's annual $1.3bn in aid to Egypt.
Meanwhile, the US State Department warned citizens not to
travel to Egypt and called on those already there to leave.
Obama's remarks sparked a defiant response from Egypt's
president early on Friday, saying that "statements not based on facts may
encourage violent armed groups".
"The presidency appreciates US concern for developments
in Egypt, but it wished it could have clarified matters," said the
statement carried by the official MENA news agency.
Governments in several European capitals summoned Egyptian
envoys to voice their concern.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Morsi
supporter, described the crackdown as a "massacre" and Ankara later
recalled its ambassador to Cairo.
And the UN rights chief Navi Pillay called for "an
independent, impartial, effective and credible investigation of the conduct of
the security forces"
"The number of people killed or injured, even according
to the government's figures, point to an excessive, even extreme use of force
against demonstrators," she said.
'Strong, defiant and
Morsi supporters had called for Cairo marches on Thursday
but that call was not heeded, while small protests were staged in coastal
Alexandria and southern Beni Sueif.
Meanwhile, attacks against churches and Christian properties
that began on Wednesday continued for a second day, with activists saying at
least 25 churches had been targeted.
As relatives sought to identify their dead, Brotherhood
spokesman Haddad insisted protesters would "remain strong, defiant and
"We will push forward until we bring down this military
coup," he tweeted.
In Cairo, at the Al-Iman mosque, dozens of corpses of
protesters clad in white shrouds were lined up before grieving relatives.
At the two protest sites where Morsi loyalists had camped
since his July 3 ouster, trucks cleared charred debris.
And Egyptian police entered a Cairo mosque containing the
bodies of several dozen Islamist protesters after a brief stand-off during
which tear gas was fired.
Ibrahim, a field medic inside the mosque, said more than 200
corpses had been removed earlier in the day but 43 unidentified bodies
State media said ambulances were waiting to cart the bodies
off to hospital for identification.
There were also calls from Tamarod, the protest group that
organised opposition to Morsi's rule, for Egyptians to take to the streets on
Friday "to reject domestic terrorism and foreign interference".
Despite the bloodshed, Egypt's press welcomed the end of the
"The nightmare of the Brotherhood is gone," daily
Al-Akhbar's front page headline read.
Newspapers carried photos of protesters brandishing weapons
and throwing stones, but none from makeshift morgues where dead protesters were
lined up in rooms slick with blood.
The killing prompted interim vice president and Nobel
laureate Mohamed ElBaradei to resign, saying he was troubled over the loss of
life, "particularly as I believe it could have been avoided."
Despite the condemnation, interim prime minister Hazem
al-Beblawi praised the police for their "self-restraint" and said the
government remained committed to an army-drafted roadmap calling for elections
He justified the use of force saying Morsi loyalists had
been sowing chaos, "terrorising citizens, attacking public and private