Undeterred in their commitment to Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, demonstrators pledged to maintain sit-ins in east Cairo on Sunday despite the risk of continued violence and bloodshed after the massacre the day before of scores of their comrades.
At least 65 pro-Morsi protesters were killed Saturday by gunfire in an eight-hour attack by security forces and armed men dressed in civilian clothes. Medical sources put the number at 72, with the Muslim Brotherhood saying a roughly equivalent number were lying vegetative in hospitals.
“No one’s going anywhere,” said Abdel-Rahman Daour, one of several spokesmen at the sit-in outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. “We either have freedom or we die. We’re not going to live in a country without freedom.”
Tens of thousands of Morsi supporters have camped outside the mosque since late June when the president’s overthrow began to seem likely. Egypt’s interior minister has made it clear that he intends to clear Rabaa as soon as possible, and Saturday’s massacre in a nearby street was considered an attempt to intimidate the protesters.
On Friday hundreds of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters turned out in support of a call by Egypt’s army chief, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, for a crackdown on what he called terrorists – a move sceptics saw as a veiled threat to protesters at Rabaa.
But Daour compared the defiant mentality at Rabaa to that of protesters in Tahrir Square during the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. While Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood diverged from – and frequently condemned – secular-minded revolutionaries following the uprising, they were present in Tahrir before Mubarak’s resignation.