Egypt crisis: Outrage, as death toll exceeds 500

Egypt’s military rulers on Thursday faced worldwide condemnation over the bloody crackdown on protesting supporters of ousted President Muhammad Morsi, and the death toll from subsequent clashes and revenge attacks which has surpassed 500.
Health Ministry spokesman, Khaled el-Khateeb, said on Thursday the death toll stood at 525 and the number of the injured also rose to 3,717.
This made Wednesday by far the deadliest day since the 2011 popular uprising that toppled Egypt’s longtime ruler and autocrat, Hosni Mubarak.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which Morsi hails, on the other hand put the death toll at a staggering 2,600 and the injured at around 10,000, but these have yet to be verified.
The United States led global outcry against the “deplorable” violence, while Paris, London, Berlin and Rome summoned Egypt’s ambassadors to voice their strong concern.
President Barack Obama on Thursday denounced the massacre of protesters by Egypt’s military-led interim government and announced he had canceled a major joint military exercise in response.
“While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back,” Obama said in a brief statement from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation spot.
“As a result, this morning, we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month,” said the President, warning that the U.S. response may not stop there.
“Going forward, I’ve asked my national security team to assess the implications of the actions taken by the interim government and further steps that we may take as necessary with respect to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship,” Obama said.
“Let me say that the Egyptian people deserve better than what we’ve seen over the last several days. And to the Egyptian people, let me say the cycle of violence and escalation needs to stop,” Obama added.
“We appreciate the complexity of the situation. While Mohammed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians.
“While we do not believe that force is the way to resolve political differences, after the military’s intervention several weeks ago, there remained a chance for reconciliation and an opportunity to pursue a democratic path,” the President said. “Instead, we’ve seen a more dangerous path taken.
“The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt’s interim government and security forces,” Obama said. “We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest.”
He said the U.S. government opposes the pursuit of martial law, which denies those rights to citizens under the principle that security trumps individual freedom or that might makes right.
“And today the United States extends its condolences to the families or those who were killed and those who were wounded” Obama said.
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Morsi supporter, called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting over Egypt’s “massacre” of the demonstrators.
Erdogan said “this is a very serious massacre… against the Egyptian people who were only protesting peacefully.”
He also criticised the “silence” of the global community in the face of the bloodshed.
China’s response was characteristically muted, appealing for “maximum restraint” from all parties, while fellow Security Council permanent member, Russia, only urged tourists to avoid trips to Egypt.
French President Francois Hollande said “everything must be done to avoid a civil war” in Egypt, while his government conveyed France’s “great concern over the tragic events” to Egypt’s envoy.
“France is committed to finding a political solution and calls for elections to be held as soon as possible, in line with the commitments made by Egypt’s transitional authorities,” said a statement.
Britain also condemned the violence and expressed its “deep concern” to Egypt’s envoy and urged “the greatest restraint.”
Germany, whose Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has called for an end to violence and resumed negotiations, told Egypt’s envoy its position “in no uncertain terms,” a ministry spokeswoman said.
Pope Francis said he was praying for the victims of the violence and appealed for “peace, dialogue and reconciliation,” during a blessing at Castel Gandolfo, the summer papal residence near Rome.
Denmark suspended aid worth four million euros ($5.3 million) to Egypt “in response to the bloody events and the very regrettable turn the development of democracy has taken.”
From Asia, Pakistan expressed its “dismay and deep concern” over the loss of innocent lives and called the events “a major setback for Egypt’s return to democracy.”
The Philippines urged its 6,000 nationals in Egypt to leave the country and raised the alert level due to “the escalating civil unrest.”
Only the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain voiced support for Egypt’s military leaders, saying it was the state’s duty to restore order.
The Emirati Foreign Ministry affirmed its “understanding of the sovereign measures taken by the Egyptian government after it had practiced maximum self-restraint during the preceding period.”
The Gulf state criticised what it said was the “insistence of political extremism groups to make speeches of violence and incitement… that led to (Wednesday’s) sad events.”
Bahrain said the “measures taken by Egyptian authorities to restore peace and stability were to protect the rights of the Egyptian citizen, which the state is obliged to do.”

  Daily independent
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