The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 27, 2013

In Egypt bloodshed, dozens of Morsi backers killed

(Continued)

Interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, a longtime pro-democracy campaigner who backed the military's ouster of Morsi, raised one of the few notes of criticism of Saturday's bloodshed.

"I highly condemn the excessive use of force and the fall of victims," he wrote in a tweet, though he did not directly place blame for the use of force. He added that he is "working very hard and in all directions to end this confrontation in a peaceful manner."

But the image of the Islamists as dangerous and not the peaceful protesters they contend they are has had a strong resonance. Over past weeks, there have been cases of armed Islamist Morsi backers attacking opponents — though the reverse has also occurred. Before Saturday, some 180 people had been killed in clashes nationwide.

Walid el-Masry, one of founders of the youth activist Tamarod movement that led the original wave of protests against Morsi, said he believed the Brotherhood "pushed for (the) clashes. ... The Muslim Brotherhood is trying to grab the international attention and have the victim attitude."

The liberal umbrella group National Salvation Front, which ElBaradei once led, also said it "puts strong blame on the Brotherhood," pointing to hard-line rhetoric in speeches at pro-Morsi rallies calling for "jihad" and "martyrdom."

A leading figure of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed el-Beltagy, accused army chief el-Sissi of seeking violence by calling Friday's pro-military rallies.

"This is the mandate el-Sissi took last night — to commit massacres and bloodshed against peaceful protesters denouncing the military coup," el-Beltagy said in a statement on his Facebook page.

The clashes began after a crowd of Morsi supporters late Friday moved out of their Rabaah al-Adawiyah encampment and installed themselves on a nearby major thoroughfare, blocking it. They began to set up tents there, planning to stay there at least three days, said Mahmoud Zaqzouq, a Brotherhood spokesman.

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