Cairo was rocked once again by violence on Friday when four deadly bombings took the lives of six people and injured many more. The bombings occurred on the anniversary of the Egyptian revolution that toppled leader Hosni Moberak, placing the Muslim Brotherhood and eventually Mohamad Mursi at the head of the Egyptian government. Mursi – the first freely elected President of Egypt – was himself deposed by now leader General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, during a military Coup in July of last year. For the past six months, the two sides have been locked in a fatal struggle for power which has left the Egyptian people counting their dead, and fearing for their lives.
The first and deadliest of the explosions was a car bomb that went off Friday, in the early morning hours. The target was a security compound within the capital city itself. The bomb killed four people – three of which were security officers – and was meant to send a clear message to those who support the military government.
Unfortunately, these explosions aren’t the first to rock Egypt. There are explosions throughout the country on an almost weekly basis, though most do not come so close to the capital. According to David Barnett, a research associate at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the attacks by the Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, or “Son’s of Jerusalem,” are becoming less frequent but bolder and deadlier. Their attacks directly on the security officers and other members of the established government show a growing desperation within the movement.
Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, an Al Qaeda like terrorist group, took responsibility for the bombings by releasing an authenticated statement on Friday. In it, he called for support for Islam and threatened the lives of security officers, faithful to the government.
Despite the danger presented, within two hours of the initial bombings more than 200 people had gathered at the police line in support of General Sisi. Some wore masks, others passed out campaign literature, and some just cheered his name. Although Sisi has yet to officially announce his candidacy, it is widely believed that he will run in the upcoming presidential election, taking the position by votes instead of force. On Sunday, interim President Adly Mansour announced an amendment to the electoral process that will allow the presidency to be decided first before the legislature is put into place. This is designed to create a more sympathetic legislature toward the president and facilitate an easier transition to power.
“I have taken a decision to amend the roadmap of the future by starting with a presidential election,” said Mansour while addressing the people on state television.
While people gathered to show support at the line, more explosions rang through the air in Cairo. One on the road leading to the Pyramids of Giza, and one in the Dokki district of Cairo resulted in a fatality each. This lead to a military push back against the Mursi supporters and the Muslim Brotherhood who were attending the now daily protests calling for the removal of Sisi. The explosions were followed by a fierce exchange of gunfire between the security agents and the so-called insurgents. In other parts of the country, five soldiers were killed in Sinai Peninsula during a military operation, and an unidentified gunman killed three more soldiers when he opened fire on a bus in the same area of the Sinai.
The people who stand with Sisi believe the Brotherhood is behind all of the violence and attacks which have rocked Cairo, since the coup. In the streets they chant “The people want the execution of the brothers.” These people believe that Al-Maqdis and the Brotherhood are one in the same. However, the Brotherhood vehemently denies any attachments to the terrorist group, and publicly denounces their actions. The Brotherhood “strongly condemns the cowardly bombings in Cairo, expresses condolences to the families of those killed,” and “demands swift investigations” according to a statement released Friday.
And yet this statement did not seem to slow down the violent confrontations between the two sides. There were nine protestors killed throughout the capital by armored personnel carriers that had been deployed in an attempt to keep order. Near Tahrir Square, police armed with assault rifles and tear gas launched into a crowd of Mursi supporters. The same security group would not allow anyone into the square after the commotion without passing through metal detectors. Three more protestors were killed by security forces in other areas throughout the country during the same time span.
“Everything is in the hands of the police, there is no politics in Egypt,” said Fahmy Howeidy, a journalist who remains sympathetic to political Islam. “If you close the door against peaceful solutions, you should expect violence as an Alternative.”
Stateside, the White House issued a statement condemning the Cairo bombings and all forms of violence, urging both sides to cease their aggression. “These crimes should be investigated fully and the perpetrators brought to justice,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
By Christopher Chisam
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