On Friday, protesters filled Tahrir Square in response to Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s call for a popular mandate to "confront terrorism." And in the early hours of Saturday, Egyptian security forces showed exactly what that meant: They opened fire on Islamist protesters, killing at least 65 people.
The attack marked the worst loss of life under Egypt’s new interim government, and seemed to highlight the military’s determination to break up the pro-Morsy demonstrations in Cairo through brute force. It has been a violent month: Egypt is currently witnessing the worst bloodshed since the 18 days of protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Since the June 30 demonstrations against Mohamed Morsy, at least 265 people have lost their lives to political violence. That total includes both pro- and anti-Morsy protesters, security forces, Copts killed in sectarian violence, and police and civilians killed in attacks in the restive Sinai Peninsula. The true death toll is probably higher. This count relies on media reports and Health Ministry statements, which may not provide a complete accounting of the dead. Furthermore, doctors at the pro-Morsy sit-in say 127 people were killed in last night’s clashes, so the official count from that attack could still rise significantly.
This means an average of 9.5 people have lost their lives every day since the June 30 protests. And beyond the staggering totals, it illustrates Egypt’s persistent instability: The country has not witnessed two days in a row when nobody was killed, and has suffered through three days when over 40 people lost their lives.
Here is a breakdown of Egypt’s bloody month:
David Kenner is the Middle East editor for Foreign Policy.| Passport |