Despite Bloodshed, Many Egyptians Support Military Egypt witnessed the bloodiest day in its modern history this week. Most of the dead are Muslim Brotherhood supporters, but there's little sympathy as the military and media ramp up a campaign to brand them as terrorists.

Despite Bloodshed, Many Egyptians Support Military

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


As positions harden in Egypt and violence flairs, we going to hear more about the division splitting the country. NPR's Leila Fadel reports that much of Egypt has little sympathy for Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood or their supporters. She sent this report.


LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: In this shopping district in central Cairo, people heap praise on Egypt's military, the military that overthrew Morsi after millions took to the streets to demand his ouster; the military that appointed this new government and the cabinet, that ordered a crackdown so brutal that there were too many bodies for the state to process in a timely manner.

All of it is for the good of Egypt. That's what Mustapha Ali says. He is a student who sells watches at this marketplace.

MUSTAPHA ALI: (Foreign language spoken)

FADEL: The Muslim Brotherhood are terrorizing innocent people, he says. Mustapha says the army is who he trusts. They would never hurt Egyptians. To many here, the Muslim Brotherhood is just a bunch of terrorists. The group propelled Morsi to power through elections last year, and few outside of the pro-Morsi marches have sympathy for them. It is a narrative that's been, in part, shaped by local TV channels.


FADEL: On state television, anchors read out the news, a constant tag in the corner is written in English. Egypt fighting terrorism.


FADEL: On a privately owned, pro-military channel, a reporter interviews detainees overnight. More than 1,000 people have been arrested by security forces. He shoves a microphone into a scared looking Pakistani man's face. Why are you in Egypt? Did you go to the protests?

The man is bewildered. He answers in broken Arabic: I'm working, just for work.

It is an alarming indication of the broad social mandate for extreme use of force against the Brotherhood and its supporters. The overwhelming majority of those dead are pro-Morsi protesters, and the state blames the Brotherhood for concocting what it calls a terrorist conspiracy against the state.

Ziad Akl is an analyst at an Egyptian think tank.

ZIAD AKL: What we're seeing is basically, just how the army very much shaped the public perceptions of Egyptians. On the other hand, of course, what we're seeing is the very normal, expected result of the Muslim Brotherhood's political attitude.

FADEL: Morsi committed human rights violations during his rule. He tried to fill the state with his own supporters, and exclude others. And the bloodbaths today, no matter how horrific, are widely accepted.

AKL: We will not necessarily see a civil war, but what we're seeing right now is probably a state of social aggression that the Islamic movement has never known before in Egypt.

FADEL: As the death toll mounts, the nation is fracturing; and the military is firmly in power. The Brotherhood refuses to leave the streets, seeing this as a fight for its survival. And the military and police show no signs of stopping the crackdown. Tamarrod, the youth movement that started the signature campaign that led to the military coup, are fanning the flames. The group has called on Egyptians to protect the streets and stand with the army.

Armed vigilantes are roaming neighborhoods, and clashing with Muslim Brotherhood supporters. The majority of protesters seem to be peaceful, but some are armed.


FADEL: Back in the marketplace in central Cairo, a mile away from major clashes, most here say the army is saving Egypt from terrorists. We walk into a shop where Nasser Sh'aalaan sells women's clothes.

NASSER SH'AALAAN: (Foreign language spoken)

FADEL: God help us, he says, and drops his head. He is a minority voice on the street.

SH'AALAAN: (Foreign language spoken)

FADEL: Nasser says Egypt's army shouldn't support some Egyptians against others. He says: We don't want Morsi or his Muslim Brotherhood, and we don't want military rule. We want someone humane.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)


FADEL: Another man in the shop yells out: God burn the Brotherhood leaders. Nasser accuses the man of being a remnant of the old regime. It is an argument that echoes everywhere as Egyptians watch the country burn on live television.

Leila Fadel, NPR News, Cairo.


Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.