Cairo at War – Under Siege Inside the Al-Fath Mosque

Photo Credit: Reuters

Photo Credit: Reuters

Yasmine Ahmed’s two brothers had been trapped in the siege for over 12 hours. Packed into a sweltering back room barricaded with chairs and wooden tables, they had been cooped up alongside hundreds of panicking Islamists and the decomposing corpses from another weekend of violence.

In the main prayer hall of the Al-Fath mosque, its grubby carpet littered with discarded shreds of cotton wool and surgical pads, an army commander huddled in a circle with his troops who, it was claimed, had only entered the building to clear it of supporters of toppled President, Mohamed Morsi as well as to protect innocent worshippers from angry mobs gathering outside.

Hundreds of locals were crammed against the pointed steel gates of the mosque courtyard. Many were in no mood to forgive those trapped inside; in the minds of some Egyptians, the Morsi supporters have become little more than “terrorist” outlaws.

“Their fate is not in my hands now,” said Yasmine, 20, a college student. “The army and the police think the people trapped inside are terrorists. But they are not. What we have now is chaos. There is chaos between all the Egyptian people.”

The fear and anxiety were palpable. Weeping relatives tramped around the prayer hall, while jumpy police officers toted their Kalashnikovs in one hand, wide-eyed and frantically chewing gum.

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