Surreal photos of Cairo’s protest center, 24 hours after the crackdown

(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Demonstrators first gathered at the Rabaa al-Awadiya mosque in Cairo over a month ago, in defiance and anger, to protest the military's removal of President Mohamed Morsi. The sit-in grew so vast that families there last week set up carnival-like attractions and rides for their children to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday. But the military-led government had made clear that it wanted the pro-Morsi gathering, comprised mostly of Islamists, to disperse.

When the sit-in at Rabaa al-Awadiya continued, security forces stormed it and another one in a torrent of violence that health officials say has claimed 525 lives and counting.

Photographers visited the Rabaa al-Awadiya mosque again Thursday morning, 24 hours after the crackdown. What they found looked more like a street corner in Syria or a scene from wartime Eastern Europe than a mosque in Cairo's mostly residential Nasr City neighborhood. The mosque is not one of Cairo's many ancient monuments – it was built in the latter half of the 20th century – but it was still a place of religious worship and, this month at least, political significance.

These photos of Rabaa's burnt-out halls and now empty street front (see what it looked like before the crackdown here) are an eery sign of Wednesday's violence, as well as of the Muslim Brotherhood's forced dispersal.

 A supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi stands amongst debris. (Ed Giles/Getty Images)

A supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi stands amongst debris. (Ed Giles/Getty Images)

A general view shows the burnt facade and debris at Rabaa al-Adawiya in Cairo. (MAHMOUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images)

A general view shows the burnt facade and debris at Rabaa al-Adawiya in Cairo. (MAHMOUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images)

A tractor clears the debris at Rabaa al-Adawiya. (MAHMOUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images)

A tractor clears the debris at Rabaa al-Adawiya. (MAHMOUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images)

An Egyptian man cleans his hands outside the charred remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

An Egyptian man cleans his hands outside the charred remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Egyptians walk among the charred remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Egyptians walk among the charred remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Egyptian government employees clean up outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Egyptian government employees clean up outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Egyptian firefighters battle flames at the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Egyptian firefighters battle flames at the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Egyptian Army soldiers walk among the charred remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Egyptian Army soldiers walk among the charred remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

An Egyptian holds a burned page form the Quran. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

An Egyptian holds a burned page form the Quran. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

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