Escalating Violence and Deepening Divide in Egypt

Player utilities

Listen to the story.

Carol Hills: I'm Carol Hills in for Marco Werman. This is The World. Fears of an all-out civil war continue to rise in Egypt. After a weekend when security forces shot and killed at least 80 protestors at a rally demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. Today, Muslim Brotherhood protestors took to the streets again in defiance of the military.

Protestors: [Speaking Arabic].

Hills: Financial Times correspondent, Borzou Daragahi, is in Cairo. He says supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are not backing down.

Borzou Daragahi: After this horrific massacre really of scores of protestors in Eastern Cairo, early morning Saturday, you had early morning today, a whole bunch of supporters of the ousted President Morsi going on an overnight march to the headquarters of the military's intelligence branch. Now, this was very provocative because it's one of the most sensitive sites in the country, in a large march, people were literally on the edge of their seats waiting to see what would happen with dread and trepidation. And nothing happened. It seems like both sides kind of balked with Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, arriving here today. I don't think that the security forces wanted another massacre on their hands, and the protestors were very well-behaved as well.

Hills: Catherine Ashton, this is her second visit in a month basically, since Morsi was dumped. And it seems like international concern is ratcheting up, but it doesn't seem like Egyptians or the people involved on both sides are really taking any heed.

Daragahi: You have a very polarized situation right now in that both sides are sort of speaking past each other, and both sides are locked in these very uncompromising kind of positions, that supporters of the coup that overthrew President Morsi are convinced that they are totally in the right and that their opponents are a bunch of terrorists. They're being fed a steady diet of just propaganda on both the state-owned TV channels and the private channels that are owned by businessmen with strong ties to the regime of Hosni Mubarak. And I don't know how else to put this, but these TV stations are just full of lies day after day, hour after hour. Meanwhile, you have the Brotherhood that has this sort of messianic sense of purpose, seeing it being robbed of its historic birthright and election that was fair and square, and they see this as being stolen from them. So they see themselves as in an extremely righteous position. So when you have two sides like that that are so far apart, it's very hard to create any kind of space for, for the middle.

Hills: You know, in your article today in the Financial Times, you write about the role of Egypt's security forces, that their sort of lack of accountability for the abuses by those security forces, and this was raised again in the weekend violence, who controls them?

Daragahi: It's kind of interesting about Egypt's Security Ministries. They've seemed in many instances to be powers unto themselves. I think Morsi tried to some extent to put his zone guys in there and tried to co-op the Ministry of Interior when he was president, but he rarely made any attempt to reform it. He did nothing and he eventually once again became a victim of it.

Hills: You know, when you and I spoke just on Friday you were talking about how sort of liberals and seculars in Egypt, they were sort of continuing their support and were cheerleading for the military, but with this unchecked role of security forces coming back into the fore, is that giving liberals and seculars any pause?

Daragahi: I think it was inevitable that this would beginning to happen, the unwieldy coalition that brought down Morsi included liberals, leftists, as well as people with families in the corrupt judiciary, and staunch supporters, of Hosni Mubarak's regime. They came together to bring down the Brotherhood, and as time goes on you're gonna see them fragmenting further and further, perhaps introducing yet another element of instability in Egypt. And so absolutely they're, they're starting to have second doubts, as I knew they would, as everyone knew they would when the people they elevated to power, including, you know, these sort of security official types, would begin to resume the kinds of brutality and corruption that they were engaged in for many decades.

Hills: Borzou Daragahi of the Financial Times, speaking with us today from Cairo.