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'Day of rage' in Egypt

Matthias Sailer/ cbAugust 17, 2013

After Friday prayers, renewed violence erupted in Cairo. Protesters called it the "Day of Rage." Police and military have begun to use live ammunition. But the Islamists are not backing down.

Tanks at Tahrir Square, Cairo, August 16, 2013. (Photo: DW/Matthias Sailer)
Ägypten Protest Muslimbrüder 16. August 2013 DW SailerImage: DW/M. Sailer

Dozens of tanks have closed off Tahrir Square. That's the military regime's way of keeping protesting Islamists away from the symbolic space at the heart of Cairo. Supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi had announced 28 marches that were supposed to meet at Ramses Square three kilometers away after Friday prayers.

More than 10,000 people have gathered there, shouting "Islamist, Islamist" and "That's the anger of Muslims - they burned humans." The protesters are referring to the Wednesday (14.08.2013) massacre at Rabaa al-Adawija Square, where hundreds of people were killed, most of them Islamists. Many of the victims burned to death.

Rage and determination can be heard in the protesters' voices. Adel Badri, a fishmonger in his 50s, sits on a lawn nearby. He went to Rabaa Square daily before the clearing. "One of my closest friends was murdered there," Badri said. "His body was burned. I come from a village in the Monofeia province, and from each of the surrounding villages, at least two people were killed."

Wounded persons, protesters and doctors inside a mosque in Cairo, August 16, 2013. (Photo: DW/Matthias) Sailer
Inside a mosque-turned-field-hospitalImage: DW/M. Sailer

Willing to die

The Rabaa massacre predictably incited Islamists to enormous anger. Many of them are ready to die as martyrs. "I sacrifice my body and soul to Islam," one of them shouts. The fight against police and the military is a battle for Islam in their eyes.

Their demands have expanded beyond Morsi's reinstatement. Directed at the police and military forces, they shout, "We're going to show you true rage." Momen, one of the protesters, said, "These people are murderers, they staged a coup and don't want to let us vote. They will always want to keep us down as second-class human beings, while they are the first class. But we won't let them get away with that, even if it means we are all going to die."

Mosques as field hospitals

Unlike with previous protests, hardly any teargas is used. Instead, shots ring out again and again. After a few minutes, the first motorcycles and pick-up trucks drive by, transporting wounded Egyptians to a nearby mosque that has been turned into a field hospital. A man with a bandaged arm is running towards the fighting, crying out, "I was wounded in Rabaa. Now they have to allow me a martyr's death."

Crowds in Cairo, August 16, 2013. (Photo: DW/Matthias Sailer)
Protesters also gathered at the camp sites that were cleared by security forces earlierImage: DW/M. Sailer

An imam is announcing via the mosque's speakers that doctors and transport vehicles are needed, and that bodies should be taken to the first floor. Inside the mosque, wounded people lie on the green prayer rug and doctors in bloodstained scrubs are running around treating patients.

Used bandages are scattered everywhere. The most common injuries are caused by shotgun pellets. Fishmonger Badri is standing in front of the mosque's entrance: "Defense Minister al-Asisi wants to provoke a civil war in Egypt, so he can stay in power. They also burned down the churches, so they can accuse the Islamists of doing it."