Egypt: Vice President Resigns Amid State of Emergency

August 14, 2013  

As violence in Egypt continues to spiral out of control, the country’s Vice President, Mohammed el-Baradei, has resigned.

The Health Ministry says that 150 people have been killed and well over one thousand wounded in the clashes, which started Wednesday morning as bulldozers moved in to clear protest camps across the capital Cairo, including the largest protest camp outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo.

That sparked violent clashes, with security forces claiming to have come under fire from pro-Morsi demonstrators, who have been protesting the Islamist president’s ouster by the military since the beginning of last month.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood – Morsi’s backers – allege that the death toll is far higher the government estimates. They put the figure at 2,000, and are claiming that the government crackdown is nothing short of a “massacre.” 

In response to the increasingly volatile situation, the interim government called a state of emergency, which began at 4pm local time.

But that did little to stem the violence and bloodshed – leading El Baradei to resign. In a statement he said that he could not “continue in shouldering the responsibility for decisions I do not agree with and I fear their consequences. I cannot shoulder the responsibility for a single drop of blood.”

The UN’s Secretary General has added his voice, calling for calm and urging “all Egyptians to concentrate their efforts on promoting genuinely inclusive reconciliation.”

Apart from Cairo, clashes and deaths have also been reported throughout the country, and particularly in the north.

Despite the death toll, the government has lauded the “restraint” of security forces and cited the “smaller number” of injuries among protesters.

There are also a number of reports surfacing that Islamist supporters of Mohammed Morsi are continuing to target the country’s Christian population. The ancient, indigenous Coptic Christian community is facing an increased threat as Islamists look for scapegoats in their as yet fruitless struggle to reinstate the ousted president.

Several churches have reportedly been torched so far today, including one of the country’s oldest – the 4th century Virgin Mary in Minya.

Yesterday, a 10 year old Christian girl was shot and killed in an apparently random attack as she returned from a Bible class, the latest in a series of sectarian murders by Muslim extremists.

Meanwhile, international leaders have called on the interim government to show restraint, and reacted with great concern to the declaration of a state of emergency – being all too aware of how Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, utilized “emergency law” powers for 31 years as a tool to consolidate power, quash opposition and silence political dissent.

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