After Friday prayers, thousands of supporters of the ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi poured out of the mosques and flooded the streets in defiance of a military imposed state of emergency.
Today’s demonstrations are apparently in response to the Muslim Brotherhood’s call for “A Day of Rage.”
There are reports of casualties, including of police and protesters.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Robin Young.
MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:
I'm Meghna Chakrabarti, in for Jeremy Hobson. It's HERE AND NOW. In a moment, we'll talk to former U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns about the Obama administration's options regarding continuing bloodshed in Egypt.
YOUNG: But first to Cairo. After Friday prayers, thousands of supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi poured out of the mosques in response to a call from the Muslim Brotherhood for a day of rage and in defiance of the military, which has imposed a state of emergency.
There have been many deaths in several cities. The BBC's Bethany Bell is in Cairo. Bethany, what does it feel like on the streets?
BETHANY BELL: Well, where I am, it's just across the Nile from the Four Seasons Hotel along the Nile Corniche, and we can hear sustained gunfire at the moment. Their army is out in force, their armored personnel carriers. They're trying to stop protesters approaching from the south.
Earlier we had those reports from Ramses Square, where one of my colleagues saw a number of people, he counted 12 people, who had been killed and a number of others wounded. The shooting appears to have come from a police station, which had come - had started to be stoned by people outside in the streets.
The authorities warned earlier that they would use live ammunition to stop attacks on public buildings and to protect themselves, and that it seems is what they're doing.
YOUNG: Well, and so obvious conflict between the police and the pro-Morsi supporters. Has there also been a conflict between the pro- and anti-Morsi Egyptians?
BELL: We've seen in one area, one bridge, one of my colleagues saw a march by the Brotherhood. They were trying to cross one of the bridges. And apparently people from the neighborhood tried to stop them. They barricaded the bridge over. At the moment, though, what I have information about is what the clashes between the army and the Brotherhood. Now both sides are blaming each other for the violence.
The Muslim Brotherhood has said that it's out for peaceful protests. The army is accusing them of inflaming the situation. So we have counterclaims and claims going on here. But certainly, the army is going on with its stated intention to use live ammunition, and we've heard shots going on for a long time now.
YOUNG: Well, your colleague Jeremy Bowen tweeted today: Egypt is now in a deepening, really serious crisis. I can't see how they get out of it without a lot more violence and death. What is the sense there of what might stop this? And I suppose at the same time I should ask, what's been the reaction to President Obama here in the U.S. blaming both sides in the conflict and asking both sides to ratchet it down?
BELL: Well, the Egyptian government put out a statement saying that President Obama didn't understand the situation here. It said that they were facing what they called terrorist acts, and they were acting against that. The Muslim Brotherhood, I think, feels let down by the West in general, that the West preached democracy to Egypt for years, and when there was a democratically elected president, they didn't support him. So I think in both sides there is a sense of extreme disappointment over the international community.
It's hard to see at the moment how things go from here. I mean, if the army keeps on with this tamp-down, it may be that they will try and send a signal to the Brotherhood to try and make them back down, but so far there doesn't seem to be a sign that the Brotherhood is preparing to do that, and there will be many Egyptians who, while they will be upset about the loss of life, will agree with the government that they want to see stability return to this country.
The Brotherhood on its part says that this is, it's right, this is its moment, it needs to seize the moment to call for democracy, they say, to be returned to this country.
YOUNG: Well Bethany, it's obvious that the most immediate concerns are the crisis. But I'm wondering, too, are Egyptians leaving or concerned that people who normally travel there aren't coming? We're thinking of thousands of American students who usually study in Egypt in study abroad programs. I mean, what is the sense - is there any sense of how this is going to resonate, or are people more concerned now on calming the current crisis?
BELL: Clearly, the current crisis is what's in most people's minds today. But of course, Egypt is extremely dependent on foreign tourism. It's one of its biggest foreign currency earners. And there are travel warnings from the United States, there are travel warnings from Britain, there are travel warnings from many countries advising people not to travel to parts of Egypt at the moment.
You know, many of Egypt's most famous sites, the pyramids are right here next to Cairo. Egypt is extremely dependent on foreign visitors, and if this type of violence continues, people will be extremely reluctant to come here.
YOUNG: The BBC's Bethany Bell in Cairo. Bethany, thank you.
BELL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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