The violence in Egypt escalated early Monday morning when security forces opened fire on a Muslim Brotherhood sit-in in front of Cairo’s Republican Guard headquarters. More than 50 were killed, and hundreds more were injured, many with wounds to the head. The Muslim Brotherhood alleges that some of those killed were children. The incident happened at about 4:00 a.m. local time.
Egyptian army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali insisted that soldiers opened fire when a “terrorist group” armed with petrol bombs, stones and live ammunition attempted to storm the Republican Guard. He alleged that two police officers and one soldier were killed, while eight were seriously wounded. One soldier, he said, was killed by a shot through the top of the head, proving that snipers were firing on the soldiers from above.
According to Colonel Ali, no children were killed in the incident.
The Muslim Brotherhood has denied allegations that they attacked soldiers stationed in front of the Republican Guard first. They maintain that they were engaged in a peaceful sit-in protest. According to Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad Haddad told Al Jazeera, “Every police force in the world understands how to disperse a sit-in. This is just a criminal activity targeting protesters.” Haddad believes that the interim government is hoping to force the Muslim Brotherhood into accepting Morsi’s ouster, or, alternatively, draw them into a “cycle of violence” that would discredit the party and lead to many more deaths.
Interim President Adly Mansour has expressed his dismay at the massacre, and has ordered an investigation.
On Tuesday, the interim government released its plan for new elections. The plan, which would take place over a six-month period, would rewrite the Egyptian Constitution, while providing for the election of a new president and a new Parliament. The interim government hopes to both assuage the fears of the international community regarding the fall of Egypt’s apparent return to dictatorial military rule, and satisfy the objections of Morsi’s supporters.
If democracy isn’t restored in Egypt, the country stands to lose the $1.3 billion in American aid it receives each year. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, both supporters of the previous Mubarak regime who stood opposed to the changes wrought by Egypt’s 2011 revolution, have pledged to support the interim government with up to $5 billion in grants and loans.
The transition plan comes in the wake of Adly Mansour’s struggles to put together an interim cabinet, after many of his chosen appointees either turned down the offer or met with opposition from Mansour’s supporters.
The Muslim Brotherhood has rejected the interim government’s transition plan, which calls for a panel of Egypt’s top judges and law professors to draft a new constitution, which would then be passed to a committee made up of prominent figures in government institutions, as well as social and political movements. The new constitution would be moved to a public referendum after its approval; parliamentary elections would follow two weeks later and presidential elections three months later.