Skip to main content

Another night of unrest in Egypt: Protesters, security forces clash

By Arwa Damon and Hamdi Alkhshali, CNN
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 2117 GMT (0517 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Authorities arrest 31 "rioters" outside media complex, state-run media reports
  • Morsy supporters attempt to storm a media complex, state-run TV reports
  • Egypt's interior minister has urged pro-Morsy protesters to leave the squares
  • U.S. secretary of state is criticized for comment on "restoring democracy"

Cairo (CNN) -- Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy attempted Friday to storm a media compound outside Cairo, burning tires and firing bird shot at security forces who responded by firing tear gas.

The clash came as the new military-backed government called for an end to two massive pro-Morsy sit-ins in Cairo that have drawn tens of thousands of protesters -- primarily Muslim Brotherhood supporters -- since the military ousted Morsy from office.

Egypt's military toppled Morsy, the country's first democratically elected president, on July 3 and quickly rounded up some of his top supporters. Morsy was just over a year into his presidency. He has not been seen publicly since being detained last month.

Morsy supporters have vowed not to end the protests until Morsy is returned to office, and they have been gearing up in recent days for a possible confrontation with the military after the government's warning.

As tensions rise across the country, so do fears of possible further violence in a country facing its worst crisis since the popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Hundreds have been killed and thousands more wounded in clashes between Morsy's supporters and those opposed to his rule.

Read more: Who is Mohamed Morsy?

A bus passes a destroyed pickup truck with loudspeakers that was used by supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy on Friday, August 2. The supporters and security forces clashed in Sixth of October City in Giza, south of Cairo, after the government ordered their protest camps be broken up. Look at the latest violence in Egypt. A bus passes a destroyed pickup truck with loudspeakers that was used by supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy on Friday, August 2. The supporters and security forces clashed in Sixth of October City in Giza, south of Cairo, after the government ordered their protest camps be broken up. Look at the latest violence in Egypt.
Unrest in Egypt
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Unrest in Egypt Photos: Unrest in Egypt
Pro-Morsy protesters bracing for worst
Cairo's tent city

Upwards of 600 Morsy supporters targeted the Media Production City, a complex that contains multiple media outlets and production studios, because of what they called biased coverage of the coup.

On Nile TV, thick smoke could be seen rising from the complex, where some protesters had gathered near the front gate. Nile TV reported protesters were throwing Molotov cocktails at security forces, but a policeman at the clash told CNN he did not see anyone throwing Molotovs.

At least 31 people, described by authorities as "rioters," were arrested in the Media Production City melee, state-run media reported.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Gen. Hani Abdellatif said police had fired tear gas at pro-Morsy protesters outside the Media Production City.

As dusk fell Friday, cameras captured how packed the streets were in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda Masr squares as people shouted and waved flags. Egyptian state TV reported that security forces would cordon off the squares so people could only exit and not enter.

But Farida Mustafa, a spokeswoman for the Anti-Coup Prodemocracy Alliance, which organized the protests, told CNN that the group had seen no signs of the perimeter of Rabaa al-Adawiya being cordoned off.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Abdellatif also said there was no cordon and refused to confirm the state TV report.

Read more: The rapid rise and fall of Morsy

Before the protests began, Morsy's defenders called for a million-man march from 33 mosques, but it's unclear whether the protest materialized.

In the hours leading to the protests, Egypt's Interior Ministry urged pro-Morsy protesters to leave the squares.

The demonstrations represent a threat to national security and traffic congestion, Information Minister Durriya Sharaf el-Din said Wednesday.

Interim Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim was authorized to take "all necessary measures to face these dangers and end them," el-Din said.

While protesters rallied in Cairo beneath a banner Friday that read, "Egypt against the coup," the U.S. State Department announced that Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns is visiting the Egyptian capital.

Secretary of State John Kerry asked Burns to discuss with Egyptian leaders "the importance of avoiding violence and helping to facilitate a peaceful and inclusive political process," a release said.

Burns was in Egypt in mid-July visiting with interim government leaders.

The United States is concerned by reports that government critics in Egypt are being denied the right to peaceful protest, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Thursday.

"It's essential that the security forces in the interim government respect the right of peaceful protest, including the ongoing sit-in demonstrations," she said.

But Kerry's remarks Thursday in an interview with CNN's Pakistan affiliate, GEO TV, angered some Morsy supporters.

Asked why the United States is "not taking a clear position" on Morsy being deposed, Kerry replied, "The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence.

"And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment so -- so far. To run the country, there's a civilian government," he said. "In effect, they were restoring democracy."

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad denounced Kerry's words and accused the Obama administration of being "complicit in the military coup."

"Is it the job of the army to restore democracy?" he asked.

He then asked whether Kerry would accept the removal of the U.S. government by the military if large protests took place there.

"Such rhetoric is very alarming. The American people should stand against an administration that is corrupting their values in supporting tyranny and dictatorship," he said.

Opinion: How to rescue the Arab Spring

A visiting African Union delegation went to the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in Thursday night.

Earlier, the group Human Rights Watch urged the government to order a halt to any immediate plans to break up the Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins by force and "deal peacefully with any problems arising."

"To avoid another bloodbath, Egypt's civilian rulers need to ensure the ongoing right of protesters to assemble peacefully, and seek alternatives to a forcible dispersal of the crowds," said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Houry warned that the number of protesters packed together in the squares means "hundreds of lives could be lost if the sit-in is forcibly dispersed."

Opinion: Morsy holds key to Egypt's future

The warning from Human Rights Watch echoed one issued by fellow rights group Amnesty International that warned any attempt by the government to break up the sit-ins was a "recipe for a bloodbath."

Read more: Al Qaeda threat closes some U.S. embassies

CNN's Schams Elwazer and Laura Spark-Smith contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Egypt
Visit CNN Arabic for full election news and updates in Arabic.
May 26, 2014 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
CNN's Reza Sayah explains Egypt's presidential election.
May 26, 2014 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
Minute changes by Egypt's next leader may not be sufficient to bring genuine stability, writes H.A. Hellyer.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0359 GMT (1159 HKT)
Supporters of Egyptian leftist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi (portrait) attend a campaign meeting in Cairo.
Both presidential candidates have made lofty promises. But has either offered specifics on how the economy?
June 8, 2014 -- Updated 0806 GMT (1606 HKT)
CNN's Reza Sayah profiles the leading contender in Egypt's presidential election, ex army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0809 GMT (1609 HKT)
Hamdeen Sabahi is considered a heavy underdog in the race for Egypt's presidency, but he's sure he's going to win.
May 21, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
A court in Cairo sentences ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to three years in prison for embezzlement.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
An Egyptian man waits for tourists to take them on camel rides at the Giza pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo on February 14, 2011.
Instead of focusing on antiquities, Egypt's new "We miss you" video features dancers, malls and ritzy hotels.
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 1514 GMT (2314 HKT)
Former Arab League head Amre Moussa says presidential favorite Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is right to stand up to "terrorists."
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
Can music heal the rift of revolution and conflict in Egypt? CNN's Reza Sayah meets the Egyptian band trying.
May 6, 2014 -- Updated 2120 GMT (0520 HKT)
Egypt's former military chief doesn't mince words when he describes what would happen if he wins the presidency.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 0937 GMT (1737 HKT)
Are threats of sexual violence an everyday reality for women in Cairo?
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour sends letter to the family of jailed Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
March 9, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
CNN's Sara Sidner talks about stepping in for Al Jazeera reporters since they have been barred from working in Egypt.
March 15, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
How are the Arab Spring nations faring? What successes can they boast and what challenges await?
ADVERTISEMENT