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Remembering the Republican Guard shooting in Egypt

Egyptian police forces [file photo]
Egyptian police forces stand guard outside a court [File photo]

Shortly after dawn prayers on 8 July 2013 Egyptian security forces shot dead 51 protesters who had camped out at the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo to call for the reinstatement of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. Four hundred and thirty-five were injured.

What: Republican Guard shooting

When: 8 July 2013

Where: Egypt

What happened?

Following Friday prayers on 5 July pro-Morsi supporters gathered along Samah Salem road outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo. They believed ousted President Mohammed Morsi was being detained there and camped out in this location for several days, continuing to demand he be reinstated.

On Friday soldiers fired live ammunition at the demonstrators killing at least four protesters. The worst was yet to come.

Three days later, at around 3.20am on 8 July, demonstrators began dawn prayers. They were interrupted at 3.30am when armoured police vehicles shot teargas into the crowd and started firing on the protesters whilst snipers took aim from surrounding rooftops. Protesters were shot in the back, face, leg and chest.

Sixty-one protesters were killed and 435 injured. The makeshift field hospital ran out of medicine to treat the wounded whilst many who tried to get treatment at state and private hospitals waited for hours or were turned away by staff who were afraid of reprisals.

There was no live coverage of the shootings by the media.

What happened next?

The military has refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing or that they used excessive force. Instead it has said that it acted in self-defence after an attack by an “armed terrorist unit” which it sought to prove by releasing short clips of bearded men shooting in the direction of the army’s cameras. The army said it acted with “wisdom and prudence”.

Human Rights Watch called for an impartial investigation into the killings, which has never materialised. Interim President, Adly Mansour, announced he would set up a judicial panel to investigate the incident but left office on 8 June 2014 without doing so. In fact, no investigation of army or police personnel has taken place.

Instead, Muslim Brotherhood supporters and leaders were arrested for their alleged role in the attacks – prosecutors issued arrest warrants for spiritual guide Mohamed Badie, 10 Brotherhood leaders and 206 other supporters for inciting violence.

The Brotherhood called for a national uprising in response to the shootings and crowds gathered at the nearby Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque for further demonstrations.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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