Despondent scenes at pro-Morsi rally As the army takes control of Egypt, demonstrators in favour of the ousted president feel isolated and ignored.
Cairo - The fireworks celebrating Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s removal by the military are visible a few kilometres away, where thousands of his supporters are holding a sit-in, a protest they plan to continue until Morsi is reinstated.
Hours after his removal, the mood at the rally, outside a mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City neighbourhood, was sombre and confused.
Supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood wondered how the man who last year became Egypt’s first democratically-elected president could be ousted so ignominiously.
Fear hovered over the rally, too, with many Brotherhood members wondering if Morsi’s removal would portend a wider crackdown on the once-banned group.
The army has encircled the site of the protest, blocking main roads with barbed wire and armoured vehicles; helicopters buzz overhead, often to jeers and curses from below. One man spat at a helicopter, dismissing its pilots as traitors.
Rumours were rife in the early hours of Thursday morning that the army would soon raid the camp and detain the protesters. One man brought up the memory of 1954, when then-president Gamal Abdel Nasser crushed the Brotherhood, jailing thousands of its members.
"What the army did, they have unleashed hell on Egypt," said Mahdi Asfar, an elderly religious scholar at the sit-in. "The Islamists will not be able to stand back, because we are not going back to jail."
Many of these protesters have been on the streets since Friday, when a coalition of pro-Morsi political groups organised a rally under the banner "legitimacy is a red line." The mood on Friday was defiant, with large crowds convinced that Morsi could survive nationwide anti-government protests that were scheduled for Sunday.
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