Egyptian government and military forces are struggling to dampen violence this evening, after a day of clashes between the army and supporters of Egypt’s former Muslim Brotherhood-linked president Mohammed Morsi reportedly killed over 230 protesters and 43 police officers.
Cairo is urging Morsi supporters to “listen to the voice of reason” and cease engaging in violence. Officials have also declared a one-month state of emergency and imposed a curfew in major cities. The Washington Post contextualized the provisionstate of emergency as not particularly uncommon in Egypt:
Egypt’s interim, military-appointed government has announced the country will enter a month-long “state of emergency.” That may seem drastic to outside observers, and in some ways it is, but such provisions have been intermittently common in Egypt — and bitterly disputed — since 1967. In fact, Egypt’s last month-long state of emergency was declared just last January, when since-ousted President Mohamed Morsi declared a curfew and gave police the power to arrest and detain at will in the cities of Port Said, Suez and Ismailia.
The Egyptian army seems to have regained control over areas of Cairo where Muslim Brotherhood members had been protesting.
In retaliation for the army’s actions, Morsi supporters have launched attacks against Christians and Christian buildings across Egypt. Pro-Morsi elements had been steadily escalating violence against Copts for weeks. Today’s attacks, however, crisscrossed Egypt:
Muslim Brotherhood supporters have torched churches in Egypt in response to a violent army crackdown on pro-Morsi camps that left dozens dead, AFP cited Egyptian media reports on Wednesday. According to the reports, protesters threw firebombs as the Mar Gergiss church in Sohag, a city with a strong Coptic Christians community.
Attackers today set fire to a Christian youth center in Fayoum. They also reportedly destroyed a 4th century church, one of the oldest in Egypt. Scores of other churches and Copt homes were attacked.
A Copt activist told The Tower that over 21 churches were completely burned to the ground, and more were attacked. There are no confirmed numbers regarding deaths or injuries.
Coptic officials responded by calling for national unity in the face of the violence:
They can destroy our churches and our homes but they will never shake our faith and love for Egypt. United we stand. Lord have mercy.
— Bishop Anba Suriel (@BishopSuriel) August 14, 2013
[Photo: Euronews / YouTube]