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.