I’ve just come off the phone, after talking at length with a friend I trust who lives, more or less literally, in the middle of the battle zone, and has been witness to events. I need to write more about this, but I can’t right now.
The thrust of it is that the so-called ‘Muslim’ Brotherhood there has been completely terrorizing and destroying the neighborhood, they’ve been destroying shops and ransacking them for food and drink, they’ve been forcing people away from the area, or into their homes, they’ve been forcing themselves into buildings, where they’ve taken over the roofs of at least two buildings there, and using them to fire both gas grenades and bullets at the soldiers during the battles. She saw a one of them get shot while he was standing along, hands raised in the middle of a lull, during which, she insists, the army was not shooting. She doesn’t know how the battle started, but she knows that a woman was beaten up by some the MB’s women just for owning a hair-salon in the neighborhood, because she was therefore morally culpable for helping non-veiled girls get their hair done. She says that many of them are walking around holding black plastic bags in their hands, and she suspects those are weapons of some kind, she says many more of them are armed with the steel bars commonly used to reinforce concrete (long metal rods).
She says that after the man she saw earlier was killed, they piled up a rock shrine at the spot he died, and then would pray there. She says that she saw a car park at the demo, and she saw that the trunk was full of weapons. She says that when the army soldiers, who were holding their shields angled upwards to protect themselves from the gunfire and the debris being thrown at them from the rooftops, were not armed, and that only the officers were armed, and that their ratio, obviously, was far less. She says, and she insists that she could not ever have imagined that she would say such a thing – that the army actually seemed, in her view, to be restraining themselves quite a bit, and her first impulse (she has been with us during SCAF, and she knows firsthand how brutal the army has been to us, both in Tahrir and in Maspero, and in Abbaseya) – was that she told her mom, off-hand, that the army was ‘cuddling’ them in relation to how we would get attacked. She was horrified at was was going on.
She said that the man who was shot had fallen to the front, on his face, although he had been standing there, straight, facing the army. She tied that in with the absolute refusal of the MB’s to allow their fallen to be dissected when the bodies were taken to the morgue later. I suggested that they might be observing a religious taboo against dissection, that it was ‘7aram’, but she said that was not their argument. They just refused, she said. The word ‘7aram’, she insisted to me, was not uttered.
There’s little else to say after hearing all this from somebody whose objectivity I trust. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, and I took more time to write this out than I have right now, so I’m done.
Make of all that what you will.