CAIRO — The Muslim Brotherhood said Thursday that nothing will stop its “glorious revolution” in Egypt — not even the deaths of more than 500 people killed in the country’s bloodiest day in recent history.
“We will continue our sit-ins and demonstrations all over the country until democracy and the legitimate rule are restored in Egypt,” said Essam Elerian, a senior member of the Islamist movement.
Egypt’s short-lived experiment with democracy took a gruesome turn a day earlier, culminating in mass carnage and a return to the repressive state of emergency that had gripped the country for 30 years.
The Egyptian Health Ministry said at least 525 people died and more than 3,700 were injured Wednesday in clashes that began when security forces moved in to break up protesters demonstrating in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsy. Among the dead were 43 police officers, the interior ministry said.
The death toll could rise. On Thursday, Muslim Brotherhood officials displayed at least 100 bodies, wrapped in white, blood-stained sheets, at the Emam Mosque in Cairo, some of the 500 people the group said were brought to the mosque after the violence.
The Muslim Brotherhood and other activists on the ground told CNN those bodies had not yet been registered with authorities.
While Egypt’s interim government said the violence began after protesters violently resisted their peaceful efforts to disperse pro-Morsy sit-ins, demonstrators said security forces had staged a “full-on assault.”
CNN journalists on the ground said many of those injured or killed were unarmed. It was Egypt’s bloodiest day since the 2011 revolution to oust Morsy’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.
The shocking violence brought criticism from countries around the world and threatened to further destabilize Egypt’s already precarious economy and political situation.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the violence “deplorable” and said it was “a serious blow to reconciliation and the Egyptian people’s hopes for a transition towards democracy and inclusion.”
An administration official said the United States was considering canceling next month’s planned biennial military training exercise with Egyptian forces.
Denmark suspended economic aid to the country. China urged restraint. Germany, Italy, France and other nations summoned Egypt’s ambassadors to their nations to express dismay over the violence.
A tense situation
Despite the state of emergency imposed Wednesday by the interim government, violence spilled over into Thursday.
State-run TV reported Morsy supporters were attacking police stations, hospitals and government buildings in areas outside Cairo. In the latest violence, the Giza Governate building had to be evacuated Thursday after Muslim Brotherhood supporters stormed it, state-run Nile TV said.
But Cairo streets were relatively calm Thursday morning.
The military-backed interim government declared a month-long state of emergency Wednesday, which bars people from gathering without prior permission and lets police jail them indefinitely.
It’s the kind of stifling police state that the nation lived through under Mubarak.
Security forces raided the pro-Morsy camps Wednesday after weeks of simmering tension. Clashes and gunfire broke out, leaving pools of blood and bodies strewn all over the streets.
Authorities bulldozed tents and escorted hundreds of people away. Some mothers and fathers managed to whisk away their children, gas masks on their faces.
The dead included cameraman Mick Deane, who’d worked for UK-based news channel Sky News for 15 years and for CNN before that.
But the fighting wasn’t limited to the capital.
Morsy supporters reportedly besieged churches in Sohag, setting fire to St. George’s Church, a tour bus and a police car, state media reported.
At least 84 people, including Muslim Brotherhood members, have been referred to military prosecutors for charges including murder and the burning of churches, the state-run EGYNews site reported.
But protesters vowed to remain defiant until Morsy is reinstated.
Elerian, the senior Muslim Brotherhood member, said he’s not deterred by calls for his arrest.
“They can arrest me and 100 of us, but they can’t arrest every honorable citizen in Egypt,” Elerian told CNN Thursday. “They can’t stop this glorious revolution.”
Morsy’s rise, fall
Morsy, a former leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in 2012. He replaced Mubarak, who kept a firm grip on power for 30 years.
But rather than uniting Egypt after Mubarak’s fall, divisions intensified during his time as president.
Critics accused him of being authoritarian, trying to force the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic agenda on the country and failing to deliver freedom and justice.
Morsy’s supporters say the deposed president wasn’t given a fair chance, and say his backers have been unfairly targeted for expressing their opinion.
Though Morsy has not appeared in public since he was taken into custody, his supporters have amassed on the streets nationwide to slam military leaders and demand his reinstatement.
Even Egypt’s interim government suffered a major setback after the raid.
Mohammed ElBaradei — a secular leader who was one of Morsy’s biggest critics — submitted his resignation Wednesday as vice president.
ElBaradei said he didn’t agree with the decisions carried out by the ruling government and “cannot be responsible for a single (drop of) blood.”
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