The Muslim Brotherhood has called for an uprising against Egypt’s ruling authorities after 42 of its supporters protesting against last week’s overthrow of President Mohammed Mursi were shot dead outside an army barracks early on Monday.
The call is set to further inflame tensions in a country already sharply divided by the move to depose Dr Mursi, the country’s first popularly elected president.
Egypt’s military defended the shootings as a necessary act of self defence after it said the barracks was stormed by a frenzied mob.
A statement issued by the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, demanded “an uprising by the great people of Egypt against those trying to steal their revolution with tanks”.
The statement urged “the international community and international groups and all the free people of the world to intervene to stop further massacres . . . and prevent a new Syria in the Arab world”.
Troops in tanks and armoured personnel carriers were rolled out late on Monday morning to prevent the mass movement of people, closing three bridges across the Nile near Tahrir Square and locking down the Muslim Brotherhood stronghold in Nasr City on Cairo’s outskirts.
Tempers among the crowd gathered around the Rabah Adawiyah mosque, which has been the site of a sit-in by pro-Mursi supporters since early last week, were running extremely high.
According to the Brotherhood’s official spokesman, Gehad El-Haddad, the shooting broke out in the early morning while Islamists were praying and staging a peaceful sit-in outside the barracks.
“Why was this necessary?,” said Mohassin Ibrahim, a Health Ministry employee, who has been attending the area around the Rabah mosque daily since last week. “Why the use of violence, and killing by the army when they are ones saying they are guarding a revolution of the people?”
A factory worker, Mohamed Abu Bakr, said the shootings were evidence that the people of the old regime of Hosni Mubarak were back in control.
“When did Mohammed Mursi shoot the protesters?,” said Abu Bakr. “This was not the way of Mursi because he wanted to treat people with fairness.”
At a hospital near the Rabaa Adawia mosque, rooms were crammed with people wounded in the violence. Many of the sheets and clothes were heavily stained with blood.
Abdelaziz Abdelshakua, from Sharqia Province north-east of Cairo, was wounded in his right leg with what he says was a live round.
“We were praying the dawn prayer and we heard there was shooting,” he told Reuters news agency . He said an army officer assured them no one was shooting, then suddenly they were under fire from the direction of the Republican Guard.
“They shot us with teargas, birdshot, rubber bullets – everything. Then they used live bullets.”
The shootings will almost certainly add new layers of complexity to the already faltering attempts by those who orchestrated last week’s overthrow of President Mursi, with the Islamist Nour Party announcing that it was withdrawing from the negotiations.
“The party decided the complete withdrawal from political participation in what is known as the road map,” it said.
Nour, Egypt’s second biggest Islamist party, was considered a vital partner in the new interim coalition as it provides cover against accusations that the overthrow was targeted primarily at religious conservatives.
Mohamed ElBaradei, whom the Nour Party had earlier rejected as the choice to become interim Prime Minister, said Egypt was in “dire need” of reconciliation and condemned all violence on Monday.
“Violence is not the approach no matter what its source, and it must be strongly condemned. I call for an immediate independent and transparent investigation. Egypt is in dire need of reconciliation,” he wrote on Twitter.
Egypt’s main left-wing political leader called on Monday for the immediate formation of an interim government to fill a dangerous political vacuum after the deadly clash.
Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, leader of the left-wing Popular Current party, said the formation of the new interim government needed to be completed urgently.
“We cannot leave the country without a government,” Mr Sabahi said.
Reports of the shootings earned swift condemnation from Turkey, which is ruled by a moderate Islamist government, with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu describing the incident as a “massacre” and calling for the start of a normalisation process.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.