Monday, September 9, 2013

Mass Shooting #11

A found poem, sourced here

The attack, the third mass killing
of Islamist demonstrators since
the military ousted Mr. Morsi six weeks ago,
followed a series of government threats.

But the scale — lasting more than 12 hours,
with armored vehicles, bulldozers, tear gas, birdshot, live ammunition
 and snipers — and the ferocity

far exceeded the Interior Ministry’s promises
 of a gradual and measured dispersal.
At least one protester was incinerated in his tent.
 Many others were shot in the head or chest,
 including some who appeared to be in their early teens                               
including the 17-year-old daughter
of a prominent Islamist leader,
 Mohamed el-Beltagy.

At a makeshift morgue 

in one field hospital 
Wednesday morning,

 the number of bodies grew to 12 from 3
in the space of 15 minutes.

“Martyrs, this way,”
 a medic called out

 to direct the men bringing new stretchers;
the hems of women’s abayas
were stained from the pools of blood
covering the floor.
Adli Mansour,
 the figurehead president appointed
by Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Size,
declared a state of emergency,

removing any limits on police action
 and returning Egypt to the state of virtual martial law
that prevailed for three decades
under President Hosni Mubarak.

The government imposed a 7 p.m
. curfew in most of the country,
closed the banks and shut down all north-south train service.

The Muslim Brotherhood,
the main Islamist group behind Mr. Morsi,
 reiterated its rejection of violence
but called on Egyptians across the country to rise up
 in protest,

 and its supporters marched toward
 the camps to battle the police with rocks and firebombs.
Clashes and gunfire broke out even
 in well-heeled precincts of the capital far from the protest camps,
leaving anxious residents huddled in their homes
and the streets all but emptied of life.

Angry Islamists attacked
at least a dozen police stations
around the country,
according to the state news media,
killing more than 40 police officers.

And they lashed out at Christians,
attacking or burning seven churches,
according to the interior minister.
Coptic Christian and human rights groups
said the number was far higher.

The crackdown followed six weeks
of attempts by Western diplomats to broker
 a political resolution that might
persuade the Islamists to abandon their protests
 and rejoin a renewed democratic process
 despite the military’s removal of Mr. Morsi,
Egypt’s first freely elected president.

 But the brutality of the attack seemed
to extinguish any such hopes.
The Health Ministry said
that 235 civilians had been killed
and more than a thousand others had been wounded across Egypt.

 But the rate of dead
 and seriously injured people moving
through the field hospitals
at the sit-ins seemed to promise
 the true numbers would be much higher.
The assault prompted
the resignation of the interim vice president,
 Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Prize-winning
 former diplomat who had lent his reputation
to selling the West on the democratic goals
 of the military takeover.

“We have reached a state of harder polarization
 and more dangerous division,
with the social fabric in danger of tearing,
 because violence only begets violence,”

Mr. El Baradei wrote
 in a public letter
to the president.

“The beneficiaries
 of what happened today are the preachers
 of violence and terrorism,
the most extremist groups,” he said,
 “and you will remember what I am telling you.”

The violence was almost universally
 criticized by Western governments.

A spokesman for President Obama
said the United States was continuing
 to review the $1.5 billion in aid it gives Egypt

most of which goes to the military.
The spokesman, Josh Earnest,
said the violence
“runs directly counter
to pledges from the interim
 government to pursue reconciliation” with the Islamists.

He said the United States condemned the renewal
of the emergency law and urged respect for basic rights
like the freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstrations.

 But he stopped short of writing
off the interim government, saying the United
 States would continue to remind Egypt’s leaders
of their promises and urge them “to get back on track.”

Analysts said the attack was the clearest sign
yet that the Egyptian police state was re-emerging
 in full force, overriding liberal cabinet officials
                                    like Mr. ElBaradei and ignoring Western
                 diplomatic pressure and talk of cutting financial aid.

“This is the beginning of a systematic
crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood,
other Islamists and other opponents
of a military coup,”
said Emad Shahin, a professor of political science
 at the American University in Cairo.
“In the end,” he added, “the West will back the winning side.”

The attack began about 7 a.m
. when a circle of police officers began
 firing tear gas at the protest camps
and obliterating tents with bulldozers.
Although the Interior Ministry
 had said it would move only gradually
and leave a safe exit, soon after the attack
 began several thousand people appeared
trapped inside the main camp,
 near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque,
 as snipers fired down on those trying to flee
 and riot police officers with tear gas
and birdshot closed in from all sides.

“There is no safe passage,”
 said Mohamed Abdel Azeem, 25, a wholesaler,
 who had braved sniper fire
to reach a field hospital.

For a time in the late afternoon,
the Islamists succeeded in pushing the
police back far enough to create
an almost safe passage
to a hospital building

On the edge of what 
remained of their camp.

Only a roughly 20-yard stretch
            in front of the hospital doors 
was still vulnerable to sniper fire 
from above,

a series of Islamist
marchers from around 
the city flowed
back into the
encampment bolstering
its numbers.
 But shortly before
soldiers and police officers                                                                                         
 renewed their push, 
and the Islamists
                                                       were forced at last to flee.
  Three journalists were reportedly
 killed in the fighting:

a cameraman for Sky News,
                                    the Britain-based news network;
                                                           a reporter for a newspaper
                                   based in the United Arab Emirates;
and a reporter 
for an Egyptian state newspaper.

                                                          Several others were arrested.

Egyptian state news
media played down the violence,
reporting that the police were


the camps
“in a highly civilized way.”

 In a televised address,
Mohamed Ibrahim, interior minister
under Mr. Morsi and now under the new government,
 said his forces “insisted on maintaining the highest degrees of self-restraint.”

Later, state television showed
footage of a group of dead bodies
it said were discovered under the main stage
of the Islamist sit-in, corroborating dark rumors in
the anti-Islamist news media.

But it appeared to be a gruesome setup:
journalists, including a reporter for The New York Times,
had visited the area below the stage

repeatedly in                           recent days and found it empty,                     without any bodies.

Although journalists
saw at least a few Islamists
 with guns on Wednesday,
there was also no evidence
that the Islamists had stockpiled large numbers of

inside the camp,
as Egyptian state news media
had said before the attack.

But in a televised statement,
Hazem el-Beblawi, the interim prime minister
and a Western-trained economist
 who had been considered a liberal,
 cited the Islamists’ supposed stockpiling
of weapons and ammunition to argue
 that the use of force was justified to protect the
 rights of other citizens.

“Things were
spiraling out of control, and we decided
 to take a firm stance,” he said.
By nightfall the Islamists had established new sit-ins
outside a landmark
mosque in Cairo
 and others in cities around the country, defying the new curfew
 and the interior minister’s vows to break up any such assemblies.
“Is this closer to being resolved
tonight than last night?”
asked Michael Wahid Hanna, a researcher on Egypt
 with the New York-based Century Foundation who was visiting Cairo.

“Obviously not. I don’t think anybody has thought this through fully.”

Mayy El Sheikh contributed
 reporting from Cairo,
and Alan Cowel
from London.

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