Egypt Tense Amid Calls for Fresh Protests - Live Blogs & Updates - ABCNews

Egypt Tense Amid Calls for Fresh Protests

Tensions remain high across Egypt as the government accuses supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of “terrorism,” and Islamists vow to continue protesting all week. Hundreds were killed last week after security forces cleared two sit-ins Wednesday, and clashes have continued since. Updates from @MollyMHunter, @BGittleson, @Adamakary, @MuhammadLila, @NasserAtta5 and @MattMcGarry. Follow live as the action unfolds.

  • UN calls for 'maximum restraint' in Egypt

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council is calling on both the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood to exercise "maximum restraint" and end the violence spreading across the country.

    Council members called for national reconciliation, expressed regret at the loss of life and sent sympathy to the victims.

    Argentina's U.N. Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval, the current council president, expressed the views of council members following an emergency briefing by Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on Egypt's violence.

    The U.N. Security Council had scheduled an emergency briefing Thursday on the latest developments in Egypt following the government's deadly crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
  • The BBC's Jeremy Bowen (@BowenBBC) reports from Cairo:

  • Freelance journalist Jared Malsin (@Jmalsin) is heading towards Cairo's Ramses Square. Crowds appear to be growing: 

  • The BBC's Jeremy Bowen (@BowenBBC) confirms live fire:

  • Egyptian health ministry: 7 killed so far

  • Muslim Brotherhood: 45 dead

    The Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, reports at least 45 people were killed and more than 250 wounded in today's clashes near Ramses Square. That total does not include casualties from outside the capital. At this time, ABC News is unable to independently verify the varying figures.
  • Tahrir at this hour 

    After the military blocked all access points to Cairo's Tahrir Square this morning, it remains eerily empty at this hour.  Egyptian activist Sherif Boraie (@sboraie) snapped these shots:

  • A heartbreaking photo from earlier today. A woman comforts a critically injured young boy following clashes in Cairo's Ramses Square. Gunfire rang out over a main Cairo overpass and police fired tear gas as clashes broke out after tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets across Egypt. Cairo, Friday Aug. 16, 2013. (Khalil Hamra/AP Photo)

  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi carry a wounded man during clashes with Egyptian security forces in Ramses Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday Aug. 16, 2013. (Hassan Ammar/AP Photo)

  • Brotherhood calls for 'Week of Departure'

    ABC's Nasser Atta (@nasseratta5) reports:

    Despite rising death tolls, the Brotherhood is not backing down. Today's violence may hint at what's to come and many analysts are talking increasingly about civil war. Late Friday night, the Muslim Brotherhood announced a week of daily demonstrations in every square in Cairo and nationwide. The so-called "Week of Departure" kicks off Saturday.
  • Shadi Hamid: Egypt headed for future worse than Mubarak's reign

    Shadi Hamid (@ShadiHamid) Director of Research at the Brooking's Doha Center argues that Egypt is headed for a future far  worse than former leader Hosni Mubarak's reign. "It would be perverse if the January 2011 revolution paved the way for something worse than what it sought to replace," Hamid writes. Read the full piece here.

    Democratic transitions, even in the best of circumstances, are uneven, painful affairs. But it no longer makes much sense to say that Egypt is in such a transition. Even in the unlikely event that political violence somehow ceases, the changes ushered in by the July 3 military coup and its aftermath will be exceedingly difficult to reverse. The army’s interventionist role in politics has become entrenched. Rather than at least pretending to rise above politics, the military and other state bodies have become explicitly partisan institutions. This will only exacerbate societal conflict in a deeply polarized country. Continuous civil conflict, in turn, will be used to justify permanent war against an array of internal and foreign enemies, both real and imagined.

    There is no need to be surprised. This is what military coups look like. The symbolism, of course, is especially striking. Egypt is the most populous Arab country and a bellwether for the region. There was a time when observers would say banal, hopeful things like “Egypt can show the way toward a new democratic Middle East.” But that was a different time.

  • Saudi Arabia back's Egypt's military

    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah voiced support for Egypt's military today, calling on Arabs to stand together "against attempts to destabilize" Egypt.

    "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its people and government stood and stands by today with its brothers in Egypt against terrorism," he said in a televised statement.

    A close friend of former leader Hosni Mubarak, Saudi Arabia pledged $5 billion in foreign aid to Egypt after Morsi was removed from power. 
  • U.S. Senators McCain and Graham: Suspend foreign aid 

    In a joint statement Friday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) called for the U.S. to suspend the $1.5 billion in foreign it gives to Egypt annually, $1.3 of which goes directly to the military. 

    "We urge the Obama Administration to suspend US assistance to Egypt and make clear to the current leadership of the country what steps we believe are necessary to halt Egypt’s descent into civil conflict and ultimately to restore our assistance relationship, which has historically served US national security interests."

    Both senators traveled to Egypt last week, and McCain has heavily criticized the Obama administration's handling of the crisis. 

    Read the full statement on McCain's website
  • Egyptian government spokesman: 173 killed in Friday clashes

    At an ongoing press conference, an Egyptian spokesman says the death toll in Friday's clashes has reached 173 nationwide.
    by Ben Gittleson edited by Molly Hunter 8/17/2013 11:50:05 AM
  • Brother of al Qaeda leader arrested in Egypt - interior ministry sources

    ABC's freelance producer Adam Makary (@adamakary) reports that the brother of Ayman al-Zawahri was arrested in Egypt, according to sources in Egypt's interior ministry.
    by Ben Gittleson edited by Molly Hunter 8/17/2013 11:53:40 AM
  • 'Explosion' reported at Al-Fateh mosque

    As the Egyptian government continues a press conference about the recent violence in Egypt, reporters at Al-Fateh mosque in Cairo's Ramses Square reported an explosion and a barrage of gunfire.

    The Independent's Alastair Beach (@Alastair_Beach) is on the scene:

    by Ben Gittleson edited by Molly Hunter 8/17/2013 12:04:11 PM
  • Breakdown of fatalities, according to Egypt's government

    Government spokesman Shereef Shawki said today that the death toll in Friday's clashes has climbed to 173 people nationwide. Here's the breakdown by province:

    Cairo: 95 killed

    Alexandria: 25 killed

    Giza: 5 killed

    Suez: 14 killed

    Ismaliya: 12 killed

    Marsa Matrouh: 2 killed

    Damietta: 7 killed

    Gharbiya: 4 killed

    Northern Sinai: 2 killed

    Daqahliya: 1 killed

  • Witnesses: Security forces storm Al-Fateh mosque

    The Associated Press reports:

    Witnesses say that Egyptian security forces have stormed a Cairo mosque after firing tear gas at hundreds of Islamists supporters of the country's ousted president barricaded inside.

    Local journalist Shaimaa Awad told The Associated Press on Saturday that security forces rounded up protesters inside al-Fatah mosque, located in Cairo's central Ramses Square.

    The sound of gunfire could be heard in the background.

    Egypt's official news agency MENA reported that gunmen opened fire on security forces from the mosque's minaret. Local television stations broadcast live footage of soldiers firing assault rifles at the minaret.

    The mosque served as a field hospital and morgue following clashes Friday in the area. The protesters barricaded themselves inside overnight out of fears of being beaten by vigilante mobs or being arrested by authorities.
    by Ben Gittleson edited by Molly Hunter 8/17/2013 12:23:37 PM
  • AFP: Saudi Arabia sending three field hospitals to Egypt 

    One day after Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah pledged full support for the Egyptian military, AFP reports he has dispatched three fully-equipped  field hospitals to Cairo. A full staff of doctors and technicians will reportedly accompany the hospitals. 

    The SPA state news agency, quoting an unnamed Saudi official, reported the move was aimed at "standing by and supporting the brotherly Egyptian people, and to reduce the pressure on hospitals there." 

  • Protests planned for day 2 of the Brotherhood's 'Week of Departure'

    Wrapping up our live coverage for the night. Tune into this space tomorrow.  

    As we head into the second day of the so-called "Week of Departure," the Brotherhood finds itself in an increasingly desperate position tonight. More than 1,200 Brotherhood supporters have been detained or arrested over the last 24 hours and many rounded up after Friday's "Day of Rage" face accusations of vandalism and murder. This follows the interim government's announcement that the Ministry of Social Solidarity has started formal deliberations about whether to ban the Brotherhood. 

    But they're not backing down. The Anti-Coup Alliance has called for protests in Giza and in Cairo after prayers tomorrow. "The Alliance reiterates its continued commitment to peaceful protest in all its activities," said the statement posted on the Muslim Brotherhood's English language website. And at 9 a.m. (3 a.m. EDT) the funeral service for Ammar Badie, the son of Muslim Brotherhood General Guide, Mohammad Badie, will begin at Cairo's Al Hamad mosque. 

    Meanwhile, the rival Tamarod ("Rebel") youth group that was instrumental in Morsi's ouster, says they have collected more than 300,000 signatures for a new petition to cancel the Camp David Accords and halt the $1.5 billion in U.S. aid. 
  • Gen. Sissi says Egyptians support the military, as Brotherhood cancels march

    ABC's Molly Hunter (@MollyMHunter) and ABC's freelance producer Adam Makary (@adamakary) report:

    Shortly after prayers ended, the Muslim Brotherhood announced they had been forced to cancel the main march in Cairo today. Citing "security concerns," the Anti-Coup Alliance just sent an email to supporters halting the march to Roxy Square but said all other nationwide marches will continue as planned.

    However, the crowds haven't arrived yet. McClatchy's Middle East Bureau Chief, Nancy Youssef, tweets from the scene:

    This comes as Egypt state TV wraps up a pre-recorded speech by army chief General Abdel Fattah El Sissi. In his first appearance since last Wednesday's massacre, he defended the military's actions saying the armed forces had been nothing but "transparent and fair."

    Speaking at a Central Command meeting this morning, he told senior officials, "we will not stand by silently watching the destruction of the country and the people or the torching the nation and terrorizing the citizens."

    The army strongman praised the armed forces, saying  it was an "honor" protect  the will of the people and his "duty" to protect Egypt's homeland and security.

    He reminded the group that the Egyptian people had given him mandate to deal with the "terrorism," though the international media has chosen to ignore that fact.

    Sissi said Islam should never be used as a tool of intimidation and terror and warned of impending sectarian conflict:

    On the political process, Sissi said the military had repeatedly invited members of Morsi's former government to the negotiating table. He urged the Brotherhood and its supporters to pursue dialogue instead of violence. 

    Finally, Sissi expressed his sincere  thanks to his neighborhood friends: 

  • Heavy on security, light on protesters 

    ABC's team in Cairo tweets from Maadi's Supreme Constitutional Court, the site of a planned Anti-Coup Alliance march. We expect protesters to arrive within the hour. 

  • WATCH: Raddatz and Lila on "This Week"

    ABC News' Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz (@Martha Raddatz) in New York and ABC News' Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) in Cairo talk to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos about the unfolding crisis in Egypt:

  • At least 38 Brotherhood prisoners shot dead

    ABC's Molly Hunter (@MollyMHunter) and ABC's freelance producer Adam Makary (@Adamakary) report:

    Hours after Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah El Sissi urged the Muslim Brotherhood to pursue dialogue instead of "terrorism," at least 38 Brotherhood prisoners have been shot dead by security forces in Cairo. 

    The Anti-Coup Alliance said in a statement that it had "obtained evidence of the assassination of at least 38 anti-coup detainees in a truck transferring them to Abu Zaabal prison." 

    Egypt's interior ministry said one of the prisoners tried to take a police officer hostage, prompting the security forces to respond with tear gas. The ministry said at least 38 Morsi supporters in the security van died of tear gas inhalation, while state TV put the number at 36.

    Egypt's state news agency MENA reported the vehicle was in a convoy of vans transporting more than 600 detainees. The prisoners had all been detained after yesterday's clashes at Cairo's Al-Fateh mosque near Ramses Square.

    Two years ago, prisoners, including hundreds of Brotherhood members, staged a mass jail break at the Abu Zabaal prison during the chaos of the 2011 revolution that brought down Hosni Mubarak.
  • That's a wrap: Bloodshed continues, Washington split on Egypt aid

    Wrapping up our live coverage. 

    Want more? Follow: @MollyMhunter@BGittleson@Adamakary

    While the circumstances surrounding tonight's prisoner killings remain murky, the incident is yet another sign of a dangerously divided state. Read ABC's latest reporting on the killings here. 

    Today, the interior ministry took a page out of the history books and submitted a formal proposal to ban the Muslim Brotherhood. Just yesterday, a government spokesman announced that deliberations about the group's political future had already started.

    Along with former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, most of the senior Brotherhood leadership is being held incommunicado. Today, dozens more Brotherhood leaders were reportedly detained in raids around the country. 

    But despite the rampant crackdown, Egypt's army chief struck a conciliatory tone in his first appearance since last Wednesday's massacre.

    General Abdul Fattah El Sissi told a meeting of senior officers today, “There is room for everyone in Egypt."


    Following the televised speech, the Brotherhood swiftly dismissed Sissi's overtures.

    “The Egyptian people who discovered the trick now realize the size of the conspiracy against their freedom, dignity and sovereignty," read the statement. "As a result, the people are holding an uprising all over the republic to stand against injustice.

    But on the second day of the much touted "Week of Departure," the Brotherhood cancelled the main rally in Cairo due to "security concerns." Elsewhere, the massive crowds failed to manifest.

    After visiting the Supreme Constitutional Court in the Maadi district of Cairo, advertised as a major rallying point today, ABC's Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) writes: 

    "Today's inactivity may be a game changer.  It now appears the Muslim Brotherhood has lost the ability to mobilize its supporters quickly in Cairo, which was their key strength.  For two days, they've called for protests that never really got off the ground in the capital.

    All the main actors face tough decisions in the days ahead. For its part, the Brotherhood must decide how long it's willing to stay on the streets as support wanes and its supporters are being mowed down. Nearly 300 people were killed over the weekend and more than 1000 since last Wednesday, by most counts. 


    As the bloodshed continues, so too does the U.S.$1.5 billion foreign aid package to Egypt. And in Washington, the Obama administration must decide how long it's willing to stand by its longtime ally. This is how ABC's Chief Global Affairs Correspondent, Martha Raddatz (@MarthaRaddatz) put it on ABC's "This Week": 

    Where is the red line for the US? Where is it? There was never really a red line in Syria and you saw tens of thousands of people killed. They've lost 900 people now in Egypt. There still seems to be no red line. 

    Raddatz touches down in Cairo on Monday, follow her reporting on all ABC News platforms. 

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