Bloodshed in Egypt: Security Forces Given 'Green Light' to Shoot

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is The World. From the violent destruction of sit-ins on Wednesday in Cairo to running street battles today, it does not bode well for Egypt. Dozens of people were killed today across the country. The fighting pitted supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi against police and also some residents of the Egyptian capital who went vigilante. Bloody, but not anywhere near the level of violence two days ago that left more than 600 people dead. Sara Aboubakr is the political editor for the English-language newspaper the Daily News in Egypt. You were out on the streets of Cairo today, Sara. Did you witness any of those street fights?

Sara Aboubakr: Yes, I did. We had lots of clashes on the 15th of May Bridge. There were Morsi supporters running around with AK-47s. The situation was very tense. We had to take cover and we had to stay inside apartments. We could only report from the apartments what we could see. Some of our neighbors got shot at. It was a very tense situation.

Werman: And talk about some of the Egyptian civilians who are also now fighting against the Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Aboubakr: Unfortunately, some of the Egyptians, as you said, went vigilante, but you have to understand the history behind their decision. The Muslim Brotherhood in the last couple of months have caused trouble in most neighborhoods in Cairo, for example. Their supporters have killed several residents in Manial and [xx]. So the current residents who lost their children and their brothers are very angry and they are looking for a fight.

Werman: So yesterday President Obama put his vacation on pause to announce that the US is halting its joint military exercises with Egypt, Operation Bright Star, as it's known. How do Egyptians feel, though, about the fact that the US is continuing its sizable military aid package to the army?

Aboubakr: The reaction to Mr. Obama's speech was quite funny yesterday on the street. We did some [xx] and people simply did not care. The politicians were critical of his decision to stop the bi-annual military training, saying that they are actually siding with a terrorist group. However, on the street people do not care, and they do believe if the US administration is willing to enforce some sort of, let's call it punishment, on the Egyptian government, they would have stopped the aid. However, the US administration needs to give Egypt the aid, and this is the problem, this way.

Werman: Sara, let me ask you abut some reports we've been hearing about Christian Coptic churches being burned and just an overall sense of violence against the Coptic community. What are you hearing about this?

Aboubakr: It's been a sad week for the Coptic community in Egypt. I mean, officially there are over 16 Christian-related buildings that have been torched, churches, schools, orphanages. Especially in Upper Egypt, the situation is very tense. Two weeks ago Coptic residents woke up to find that there were black axes marked on their shops to differentiate between them and their Muslim neighbors. They were terrified and they lived in such fear, it was heartbreaking. Currently the Christian community in Egypt is very angry with the Western administrations. I cannot begin to describe their anger because they feel that they have been left out to hang dry by the Western administrations. They live in fear.

Werman: Do you see any hope for reconciliation between the sides? In other words, can the violence calm down any time soon?

Aboubakr: I believe the violence will calm down because the parties are not equal. You cannot pit a group like the Muslim Brotherhood against the army and the police force, and the rest of the factions of society. Egypt is not a simple black and white community divided between Muslims and Christians. No, there are lots of shades of gray here. And lots off communities are very angry with the Muslim Brotherhood, so it's not an equal fight. I do believe the violence will calm down by the end of this week. Some call me very optimistic, but I do believe so.

Werman: Sara Aboubakr, political editor for the Egyptian newspaper Daily News. Thank you very much for your time.

Aboubakr: My pleasure.