Egypt Tense Amid Calls for Fresh Protests
Sharif Kouddous: Egypt heading for 'high speed collision'
ABC's Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) sat down with Egyptian-American Democracy Now! reporter Sharif Kouddous (@SharifKouddous) in Cairo on Saturday. One of the first on the scene at Al-Fateh mosque this morning, Kouddous' tweets and videos were shared widely as the chaos unfolded.
What was it like when you first arrived at Al-Fateh mosque?
It was out of control when I got there. And very quickly gunfire from different areas, mostly from police and army firing at the mosque. Booms, people running around, people being hit.
It was a very chaotic scene. Mob rule and lots gunfire from police and security forces... At one point army soldiers tried to escort a couple of people who were besieged inside and you saw people attack them, hit them with sticks, and then the army fired into the air to back people off. They couldn’t even do it and had to retreat back inside.
You were there when Alastair Beach from The Independent was attacked, can you tell us what happened?
At one point a mob just grabbed him and dragged him out of the mosque. Someone came with a very large 2x4 and hit him on the head and he fell on the ground. He didn’t get up for a moment. Finally, we got him up and I pushed the crowd back and that’s when the army came in. Soldiers came in and then fired into the air to back people off... They held him in the APC.
Matt Bradley from The Wall Street Journal was also attacked, can you tell us what happened?
The same thing, a crowd came and grabbed him, said he was a spy. He joined me and Alastair and the army eventually let him go.
And then the army came to the rescue?
The army, for its part, actually treated [Matt and Alastair] very well – backed the crowd off, some of whom were trying to beat both of the journalists, both Matt and Alastair. [The army] held them in the APC and eventually let them go.
Are the mobs specifically targeting Western journalists?
It’s not only Western journalists, there is a targeting of journalists in general and this is a manifestation of a demonization of the media by both sides... Both sides have used this kind of rhetoric and it’s manifesting itself on the streets with journalists being detained, being attacked and so forth... It’s a dangerous situation for any citizen or any person to be out here. It's always more difficult if you have a camera, you’re a target.
We've seen journalists attacked before in Egypt, but is it different now?
We saw it even in the 18 days in the very beginning of the  revolution and we’re seeing it again now. But now it’s more of a dangerous situation because things in general are more out of control... They don’t see journalists as independent observers, they see journalists as part of a side, as part of either the Muslim brotherhood side or as part of the military side.
How do you see the Egypt's current crisis ending?
It’s a very difficult question. We're seeing a political cleavage that has deepened for the last year, really split apart in the last few weeks and really come apart in the last few days.... I’ve had a lot of hopes since this revolution began but that glimmer of hope is slowly being extinguished.... Egypt has been on a slow moving train wreck for quite some time now but it seems as if we are now going into a high speed collision.
We have edited this interview for length. Tune into ABC World News at 6:30 p.m. EDT for Muhammad's full piece.