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Egypt in crisis

July 8, 2013

At least 51 people were killed and 300 people were injured, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, after renewed violence erupted in Egypt early Monday when gunmen opened fire on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi outside the Republican Guard headquarters. Click here to read the full story.

The Post’s Abigail Hauslohner, William Booth and Michael Birnbaum are reporting from Cairo. On this blog, we will be providing live updates throughout the day.

Supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi react in front of army soldiers at Republican Guard headquarters in Nasr City, on July 8, 2013. (Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

Supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi react in front of army soldiers at Republican Guard headquarters in Nasr City, on July 8, 2013. (Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

  • Anup Kaphle
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Here is a summary of headlines from some of the major events today:

Egypt's Interim President Adly Mansour announced a new constitutional declaration on Monday. (Amr Nabil/AP)

Egypt’s Interim President Adly Mansour announced a new constitutional declaration on Monday. (Amr Nabil/AP)

Reuters reports that Egypt could see a new legislative vote in about six months. A constitutional assembly would be formed within 15 days, and a constitutional referendum would be held within four-and-a-half months in order to make amendments to the controversial constitution that was passed in December.

At least 51 people were killed and 300 people were injured, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, in a shooting outside the Republican Guard headquarters where the supporters believe Morsi is being held.

– Egyptian military officials say that they did not initiate the attack, and only returned fire after being attacked by molotov cocktails and guns. But the protesters say the military shooting was completely unprovoked.

– Muslim Brotherhood and a large number of Morsi supporters continued to gather and protest outside Rabaa al-Adaweya mosque in Nasr City. The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies have called for another round of protests on Tuesday against the killing of 51 pro-Morsi protesters in front of the Republic Guard palace.

Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) released a statement on his Web site, saying that although he does not want to suspend U.S aid to Egypt, it is the right thing to do at this time. White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the administration is not ready to call the ouster of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi a coup, and was not about to cut off aid to Egypt despite the political unrest.

  • Anup Kaphle
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Rawya Rageh, al-Jazeera’s Cairo correspondent, said Egypt’s Interim President Adly Mansour has issued a new Constitutional Declaration of 33 articles.

According to Reuters news service, the country could see a new legislative vote in about six months. A constitutional assembly would be formed within 15 days, and a constitutional referendum would be held within four-and-a-half months in order to make amendments to the controversial constitution that was passed in December.

A selection of Rageh’s tweets are below:

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Nancy Youssef and Aminal Ismail, who are reporting from Cairo for the McClatchy news service, have a grim account from the morgue in Cairo, which is now filled to capacity.

Orange ambulances lined up in front of the squalid morgue, each holding at least one body. As soon as doctors had finished examining one body, morgue workers would call out the victim’s name. His family members would come forward, their already heightened emotions peaking as they picked up the bare wooden coffin and lifted it onto their shoulders.

The family members’ wails, coupled with their slow procession out of the government building, signaled the next paramedic to pull forward and unload another body through the front doors. One more body had moved out, making room for one more to come in.

The scene repeated throughout the day, 10 times in the span of two hours, until in the midst of madness it provided a sense of order.

Photographs like this one below, of relatives breaking into tears after carrying or identifying the bodies of their loved ones, continue to come from inside and outside the morgue.

An Egyptian man cries outside a morgue after carrying the corpse of his brother killed near the Republican Guard building in Cairo, on July 8, 2013. (Manu Brabo/AP)

An Egyptian man cries outside a morgue after carrying the corpse of his brother killed near the Republican Guard building in Cairo, on July 8, 2013. (Manu Brabo/AP)

Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew, who was at the Zeinhom morgue earlier, said that bodies continued to come into the facility in black body bags.

Bodies have also been piling up in makeshift morgues, according to this tweet (warning: graphic photo) from Bel Trew.

  • Anup Kaphle
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The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies have called for another round of protests on Tuesday against the killing of 51 pro-Morsi protesters in front of the Republic Guard palace. From Reuters:

“In protest against the military coup that was followed by suppressive actions, topped by the Republican Guard massacre that took place at dawn, we call on all citizens and honorable people to protest on Tuesday across Egypt,” Hatem Azam, a spokesman for a coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood, told a news conference.

As Foreign Policy magazine’s David Kenner notes, the protests are scheduled to continue even as the holy month of Ramadan begins, with Muslims fasting from food and water all day.

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Thousands of Morsi supporters continue to sit-in at Rabaa al-Awadiya mosque, many mourning the victims of the shooting from Monday morning.

Aaron T. Rose, an American journalism student in Cairo, took this photo at the mosque.

Basil El-Dabh from Egypt’s Daily News has a story describing the anger and sentiments of some of those gathered at Rabaa al-Awadiya.

“I will teach my children that the army stole my president, stole my constitution, stole my voice and killed by brother,” said Hassan Ali, a protester who arrived at the square after hearing the news of Monday morning’s bloodshed.

Demonstrators directed most of their anger at Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi. “There is no god but Allah, and Al-Sisi is an enemy of Allah,” chanted demonstrators in the square.

Click here to read the full story from Rabaa al-Awadiya.

  • Anup Kaphle
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Since protests started on June 30 calling for the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt has seen seismic transformations in its political scene. Morsi is now removed from power; the streets of Cairo are chaotic, with at least 51 people killed in a dawn shooting on Monday. The Associated Press breaks down the key moments since June 29:

  • June 30 — Millions of Egyptians demonstrate, calling for Morsi to step down. Eight people are killed in clashes outside the Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters.
  • July 1 — Large-scale demonstrations continue, and Egypt’s powerful military gives the president and the opposition 48 hours to resolve their disputes, or it will impose its own solution.
  • July 2 — Military officials disclose main details of the army’s plan if no agreement is reached: replacing Morsi with an interim administration, canceling the Islamist-based constitution and calling elections in a year. Morsi delivers a late-night speech in which he pledges to defend his legitimacy and vows not to step down.
  • July 3 — Egypt’s military chief announces that Morsi has been deposed, to be replaced by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court until new presidential elections. No time frame is given. Muslim Brotherhood leaders are arrested.
  • July 4 — Supreme Constitutional Court Chief Justice Adly Mansour is sworn in as Egypt’s interim president.
  • July 5 — Mansour dissolves the Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament as Morsi’s supporters stage mass protests demanding his return; clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi groups in Cairo and Alexandria, and violence elsewhere leave at least 36 dead. Brotherhood strongman, deputy head Khairat el-Shater, is arrested.
  • July 6 — After an initial announcement that Mansour had named ElBaradei to the key post of prime minister, a spokesman for the interim president backs away, saying consultations are still underway.
  • July 7 — Secular and liberal factions wrangle with the sole Islamist group that backed Morsi’s ouster over installing a new prime minister, reflecting the difficulties in building a broad coalition behind a new leadership. Morsi’s opponents and supporters stage huge rallies to push their respective causes.
  • July 8 — The political wing of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood called for a popular uprising against the military after soldiers opened fire on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. 51 people are reported killed.

Click here to read the key events that have taken place since Jan. 25, 2011, when demonstrations first began against Hosni Mubarak.

  • Anup Kaphle
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Supporters of the ousted president Mohammed Morsi shout slogans in Nasr City, a suburb of Cairo, on July 8, 2013.

Supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi hold his photographs during a protest in Nasr City. (Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP)

Supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi hold his photographs during a protest in Nasr City. (Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP)

  • Anup Kaphle
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White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday that the administration is not ready to call the ouster of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi a coup. During a press conference, Carney said, “There are — and again, to be blunt, there are significant consequences that go along with this determination, and it is a highly charged issue for millions of Egyptians who have different views about what happened.”

The Post’s Juliet Eilperin reports:

Carney, who did not actually utter the word “coup” during his extended answer, added: “So, in answer to your question, I would say that we are going to take the time necessary to review what has taken place and to monitor efforts by Egyptian authorities to forge an inclusive and democratic way forward. And as we do, we will review our requirements under the law, and we will do so consistent with our policy objectives. And we will also, of course, consult with Congress on that.”

Carney also made it clear the administration was not about to cut off aid to Egypt despite the political unrest.

Carney’s remarks came around the time Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) released a statement explicitly calling for suspension of U.S. assistance to Egypt.

  • Anup Kaphle
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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) released a statement on his Web site, saying that although he does not want to suspend U.S aid to Egypt, it is the right thing to do at this time. “This is an incredibly difficult decision, but we have to learn the lessons of history and remain true to our values,” he says.

From his statement:

“I have always said that democracy is about more than elections, and I have consistently urged the Egyptian military to serve as the guarantor of Egyptian democracy and the protector of the Egyptian nation. I understand that the military’s removal of Morsi from office was undertaken with broad public support in the name of democracy and could ultimately lead Egypt to a more inclusive and representative civilian government. However, it is difficult for me to conclude that what happened was anything other than a coup in which the military played a decisive role. Current U.S. law is very clear about the implications for our foreign assistance in the aftermath of a military coup against an elected government, and the law offers no ability to waive its provisions. I do not want to suspend our critical assistance to Egypt, but I believe that is the right thing to do at this time.

McCain says that his position does not reflect support for either side in the conflict.

 I have never favored, and I do not favor, one individual or party over another in Egypt. Who governs Egypt is for the citizens of Egypt to decide.

Click here to read the statement in full on his Web site.

  • Anup Kaphle
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My colleague William Booth, who is reporting from Cairo, just spoke to Mohamed Askar, senior military spokesman, about the shooting this morning that health officials say killed 51 people, a majority of them Morsi supporters, outside the Republican Guard headquarters. Much of Askar’s account echoes what army spokesman Ahmed Mohamed Ali said during the press conference about an hour ago. Askar stresses that it was the protesters who initiated the attack. Protesters say the military shooting was completely unprovoked.

From Booth:

The army spokesman said the armed forces were provoked and attacked — with molotov cocktails and rifles – and that’s why they soldiers returned fire.

“The protesters have been here for four days now, so why would we suddenly attack them today?”

He stressed that the military responded to an attack, and did not initiate the violence.

“Why did we respond? They came at us with machine guns, with live rounds, with birdshot.”

“Our officer was shot in the head, and from the entry wound, was shot in the top of his head. The shot definitely came from a rooftop.”

“Nowhere in the world, not even in the United States, would something like this be acceptable, to have armed men in large crowds, with protesters shooting civilians and soldiers and attacking army headquarters.”

Askar said that the statements, videos and evidence offered by the Muslim Brotherhood activists were filled with falsehoods.

The pro-Morsi activists showed off bullet casings, live ammunition and shotgun shells. “Where did these things come from?” Askar asked, saying it would have been impossible for a casing to have traveled hundreds of yards from a soldier’s gun into the crowds. “I will tell you where they came from? The protesters had these bullets with them.”

“These people tried to break into a military installation. You saw the video where they have guns, spears, grenades.”

  • Anup Kaphle
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The state-run al-Ahram newspaper’s English language Web site, Ahram Online, reports that unknown assailants attacked the traffic police office in Port Said, followed by another shooting at the city’s port, which targeted trucks.

The website quoted Port Said’s security chief as saying that “Islamists” used cars and motorcycles to attack the government building in a drive-by shooting.

The shooting was met with police fire and the perpetrators, who fled, are being tracked down by security, Ahram reported.

Ahram Online says no suspects have been arrested yet.

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Ben Hubbard from the New York Times says he was thrown out of Tahrir Square by two men.

Al Jazeera Rawya Rageh posted the following photo on her Twitter, which shows blood on a leaflet with an Al Jazeera logo.

Attitudes of Egyptian public, largely of those in Tahrir Square, seemed to take a turn on Sunday after CNN accidentally labeled a crowd of anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir as supporters of Morsi and referred to the ouster of Morsi as a coup. CNN’s senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman wrote Sunday on Twitter that intense reactions among the crowd about U.S. reporters made it unsafe for the journalists to report from the ground.

Earlier on Monday during a military press conference, members of Egyptian media were heard asking for the removal of al-Jazeera journalists from the room.

  • Anup Kaphle
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Egyptian supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi sit in front of barbed wire fencing that blocks the access to the headquarters of the Republican Guard in Cairo on July 8, 2013.

Egyptian supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi sit in front of barbed wire fencing that blocks the access to the headquarters of the Republican Guard in Cairo on July 8, 2013. (Mahmud Hams/Getty Images)

Egyptian supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi sit in front of barbed wire fencing that blocks the access to the headquarters of the Republican Guard in Cairo on July 8, 2013. (Mahmud Hams/Getty Images)

  • Anup Kaphle
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Morsi supporters continue to gather and demonstrate at Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque, which was the venue of a defiant speech last week by Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie.

Egyptian Web site Ahram online has photographs from the mosque where those gathered earlier mourned the killing of Morsi supporters. Click here to watch the photographs.

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A group of protesters from the Muslim Brotherhood who are demonstrating in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi are headed in the direction of Cairo University for a sit-in, according to Adel Abdel Ghafar, who tweets as @doolism.

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The Post’s Michael Birnbaum reports that Egyptian state television says 51 protesters are dead in today’s clashes. The report cites Health Ministry officials.

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Journalist Evan Hill makes an interesting comment during the military press conference held to explain the army’s account of the event that led to killing of pro-Morsi demonstrator in front of the Republican Guard headquarters: The silence on the part of the Egyptian media during the Q&A indicates a reluctance to challenge the military’s account of the incident even though the army spokesman did not offer any concrete evidence.

Earlier, when the press conference was about to begin, members of the Egyptian press reportedly demanded that al-Jazeera be removed from the press conference.

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My colleague Sandi Moynihan has produced the following video from bits and pieces of footage posted on social media sites, following the demonstrations on June 29, 2013. Take a look.

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Following the police spokesman, Armed Forces spokesman Ahmed Mohamed Ali speaks at the press conference, describing the events that led to the killing of pro-Morsi protesters outside the Republican Guard headquarters. Ali says that the army did not start shooting at the protesters, but were responding to an attack on the soldiers. “Any law in the world allows soldiers to defend Egyptian security when confronted with live fire,” he says. “We are no longer talking about peaceful protests.”

Following are tweets from Mada Masr, an Egyptian news Web site that is translating the Egyptian army spokesman’s statements into English.

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