Monday 23 April 2018

Blood flows as revolution in Egypt faces descent into chaos

Richard Spencer, Magdy Samaan and Robert Tait in Cairo

Egypt faced a descent into chaos last night as violent clashes broke out across the country leaving at least 30 dead and dozens more injured.

Running battles between those supporting the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi and those demanding his reinstatement were most intense in Cairo, where tens of thousands had taken to the streets amid mounting fears of violence.

The Muslim Brotherhood's leader Mohammed Badie addressed a mass rally in the capital and called for troops to defy their generals and come to the aid of Mr Morsi, who is believed to be held under arrest by their army.

Mr Badie, who denied reports that he himself had been placed under arrest and was allowed through army lines at the main Muslim Brotherhood rally, said the national leaders who announced the new government on Wednesday night did not represent their followers.

He singled out the Grand Iman of Al-Azhar University and the Pope of the Coptic Christian church, a provocative move in light of the countries' rising sectarian tensions.

"Millions will remain in the squares until we carry our elected president, Mohamed Morsi, on our shoulders," he told a cheering crowd. "We are his soldiers we defend him with our lives."

He said he would not be deterred "by threats or detentions, or the gallows".

He urged soldiers to obey their supreme commander – President Morsi – rather than the defence minister, General Abdulfattah al-Sisi.

One of the most dramatic incidents of the day took place before Mr Badie's speech only yards away in front of the Republican Guard headquarters, near the main Brotherhood encampment at Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. Mr Morsi is thought to have been working there when he was detained, and it has become a focus of Brotherhood protests.

BARBED

Marchers came up to the barbed wire barriers in defiance of orders not to do so, and were fired on when they repeatedly tried to place a poster of Mr Morsi on them.

An army spokesman later said only blanks were used, but at least one body was filmed being carried away, and the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party reported five dead.

As the day progressed, attack helicopters flew low over both pro- and anti-Morsi rallies in a show of strength. However, there was little security in front of some of the most sensitive areas, including Tahrir Square, where anti-Morsi crowds continued to celebrate his downfall. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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