Violent Crackdown Spread Beyond Cairo

The deadly confrontations in Egypt on Wednesday were not limited to Cairo. To find out what happened in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, David Greene talks to Mohammed Abushaqra, a civil society advocate.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As Leila just said, the violence was not just limited to Cairo, it spread beyond, including to Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast.

And we're joined now by Mohammed Abushaqra. He's a social activist there. He works as a researcher in the Library of Alexandria, which is an historic emblem of liberalism and knowledge. But he's speaking for himself this morning - not the Library.

Mohammed, good morning.

MOHAMMED ABUSHAQRA: Good morning.

GREENE: So several people were killed in clashes in your city, Alexandria. I wonder what the mood is like there this morning. Are you able to go about your day?

ABUSHAQRA: Yeah. Of course. As you know, after the police, the especially in Cairo, Muslim Brotherhood supporters all over the country went down to the street in an angry mood. And in many cases, in an armed way show in center, they went down to downtown, and in downtown clashes between them, and inhabitants and the inventors and merchants of the area went to an armed level and left with deaths. And there was an attempt to break the library, which ended by the intervention of the police that left damages of the library.

GREENE: As we said, you're speaking for yourself, not for the library. I wonder how your political views have evolved over the past month. You voted for the Islamist president, Mohammad Morsi.

ABUSHAQRA: Yes. I voted personally for Mohammed Morsi in the second round of the presidential elections. I didn't vote for him in the first round. But when it came to the comparison between Mohammed Morsi and somebody who represents the ex-regime, I completely voted for the Muslim Brotherhood because they were with me in the streets. However, they violated two constitutional court verdicts issued a declaration declaring himself as a feron(ph) who is immune from any kind of supervision. The social contract between him and us has completely failed.

GREENE: Tell me what you thought of yesterday. Was this bloodshed justified?

ABUSHAQRA: Of course, there's no bloodshed that's justified. The killing of one Egyptian, even Muslim Brotherhood, one Egyptian is enough to make the whole country sad. However, the responsibility for what happened yesterday is shared between the Muslim Brotherhood and the police. The Muslim Brotherhood had several chances to get on the table with international mediations and to try to move towards a peaceful (unintelligible) process. However, they opted to continuing the armed sit-in. The first thing the set-in was indispensable, inevitable, however, the police should have used, more techniques and took more time in order to avoid the massive number of killings.

GREENE: I just wonder how you're feeling right now about the future of your country. You're someone committed to the idea of democracy. You said that not a single person should be killed. What sort of faith are you feeling after everything that happened yesterday?

ABUSHAQRA: Of course, this is so worrisome, democracy is an issue that's at stake. And the state of democracy now, sadly, is in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. If they decide to join the family, to come back and talk about politics, they will find open hands for inclusion.

GREENE: We should say, there are some in the Brotherhood who would argue that yesterday was a sign that the welcome mat is not exactly there for them to come into the political process.

ABUSHAQRA: I completely disagree. I personally will be very sad if we have a constitution that doesn't have the endorsement of the Muslim Brotherhood's or even the participation in the writing. This will really harm me because I want a constitution that's inclusive. I fight for the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the political lives.

GREENE: We've been talking to Mohammed Abushakra, who is a social activist in the city of Alexandria. Mohammed, thank you so much for joining us.

ABUSHAQRA: Thank you so much.

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