Egyptian soldiers' funeral hums with anger for the Brotherhood

Ekram Ibrahim , Tuesday 7 Aug 2012

The soldiers' funeral resembled an anti-Brotherhood protest, with angry crowds asking attending military officers to save them from 'the rule of Morsi'

The military march
The military march (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

In a tense scene, hundreds of Egyptians gathered at Al-Rashdan Mosque in Cairo's Nasr City district around midday on Tuesday to attend the funeral service held for the 16 Egyptian guards killed at the Egypt-Gaza border on Sunday.

Security forces were heavily deployed around the mosque, and several of the surrounding streets were blocked off.

Getting close to the mosque, Ahram Online found families of the killed soldiers, as well as some public figures, mourners and many angry protesters.

The group was split between those who had made it inside the mosque to pray for the killed soldiers and the rest who waited outside in anger, chanting almost without pause, and at times fighting with each other.

Protesters mainly chanted against President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, describing them as "betrayers of the country" and claiming that the Brotherhood collaborated with Hamas, which they accuse of involvement in the killing of Egyptian soldiers.

“Down with the rule of the Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood” and “The Brotherhood are agents and betrayers” were among the slogans that were chanted.

The infuriated protesters also kicked out any citizen whom they suspected to be a member of the Islamist group. Most bearded men were labelled as members of the Brotherhood and were forced to leave.

The angry crowds did not physically assault any of them, but on several occasions they pushed them away. “You kill the person, then walk in his funeral,” many protesters shouted, while forcing the suspected members of the Brotherhood to leave.

Most of the protesters interviewed by Ahram Online at the scene expressed support for former presidential candidate and Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, and Tawfiq Okasha, a controversial media figure, as well as the military council.

“No one in Egypt wants him [Morsi]; many of those who voted for him, did it for money,” said Soad Hassan, 58.

Inside the mosque the atmosphere was also electric. Hisham Qandil, Morsi's newly-appointed prime minister, was present at the prayers and was physically assaulted by protesters. Several protesters threw their shoes at Qandil when he was inside the mosque.

Other public figures also attended the prayers, including former presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, the Al-Azhar Grand Imam, former prime ministers Kamal El-Ganzouri and Essam Sharaf, and MP in the now-dissolved parliament, Mohamed Abu Hamed.

Protesters not only condemned the Brotherhood, but also many of them begged army officials as they passed by to end what they called “the rule of Morsi.”

“Isn’t this enough of the Brotherhood's rule? We want you back,” repeated one of the protesters as an army officer left the mosque. The army officer stopped, looked the man in the eyes and asked him to bear with them, explaining that they are with the people.

After the prayers, families of the deceased soldiers, mourners, protesters and high officials walked for around 10 minutes in the middle of a hot summer day, as part of a march at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier.

The coffins of the 16 soldiers were also carried by ambulances from the mosque to the march at the memorial. High officials including Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council, attended the march, but they didn’t complete it until the end, as angry protesters ran towards them chanting with anger against the Brotherhood.

Many of the families of the deceased soldiers did not like the angry chants and described them as disrespectful and inappropriate.

“I didn’t want the funeral of my nephew to be filled with these disrespectful chants. I don’t know who to blame. God only knows who is responsible,” said Ferial Ahmed, aunt of soldier Bassem Ahmed. Ahmed died at the age of 26, and was two weeks away from his engagement ceremony.

However, the few members of the Brotherhoods who attended the scene were silent in most cases. “We are misjudged and only God will show the truth one day,” Elham Ali, Brotherhood member and housewife told Ahram Online.

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said that Morsi was absent from the military funeral to allow the public to easily attend the event, as a presidential cavalcade may have caused "obstacles."

Following his assault, Prime Minister Qandil also did not attend the military funeral that followed the prayers. 

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