Evan Hill writes: It was around 3:30 a.m. in Cairo on Monday morning and time for fajr, the first of the day’s five Muslim prayers. In an hour and a half, the sun would rise. Now, it was still dark. On a wide boulevard running in front of the heavily guarded gates of the Republican Guard club, a few hundred protesters were entering the fourth day of a sit-in demanding the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Morsy. They had been waiting, sleeping in sparse shade through the hot days, believing their president was held inside the compound. On Monday morning, they formed into lines, their backs turned to the soldiers guarding the gate, and began to pray.
Less than two thousand feet away, in a high-rise apartment on the other side of the sprawling club, Salah and his family awoke. They prepared for fajr. Then they heard gunshots.
Salah rushed to the window, turned on his phone and began to film. The shots cracked through the pre-dawn darkness, followed by more — a rapid series of single blasts that sounded like they came from rifles. There was distant and incoherent shouting. Something that look liked black smoke drifted upward, and then more shots. Down below, inside the club, Salah watched soldiers throw on flak jackets, jump into vehicles and drive toward the commotion.
“There is no God but God,” he muttered in trepidation.
On the streets in front of the club, something terrible was happening. How it began, too, is shrouded in darkness. But how it ended was clear: at least 51 dead protesters, a dead soldier and a dead policeman. It was the worst act of state violence since the 2011 uprising, a “massacre” that threatened to push the huge but temporarily defeated Muslim Brotherhood even further from reconciliation with a new government they view as completely illegitimate. [Continue reading…]