By Mostafa Salem
Al-Fatah Mosque was completely evacuated by security forces on Saturday, as protesters rejecting the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi took refuge within the building resulting in a standoff.
Protesters entered the mosque late Friday night, placing the injured and dead bodies inside following clashes in nearby Ramses Square. On Friday, clashes between pro-Morsi demonstrators and security forces broke out all over Egypt resulting in 173 dead.
The mosque was barricaded while police forces created a cordon outside the mosque entrance. Residents, onlookers and street vendors gathered outside the mosque and witnesses within the mosque reported that bystanders shouted hateful comments at them.
The police asked the protesters within to vacate the mosque, and a number of the occupants complied. The rest expressed fear of leaving due to the possibility of violence from onlookers or “lack of trust” in the security forces.
Some demonstrators asked the army to provide them with a safe and secure exit. But, when they exited, groups of bystanders attacked them.
Videos from the media surfaced showing an army general asking the occupants to vacate the mosque in groups of five so that the army would be able to protect them.
Later on gunfire was reported from the mosque’s minaret which caused an exchange of gunfire between security forces and individuals inside the minaret. Following the gunfire many occupants left the mosque.
Saad Omara, a member of former Shura Council and high ranking leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and justice Party was inside the mosque.
The conflict ended with the occupants of the mosque exiting completely. 385 individuals were arrested according to the Facebook page of the Ministry of Interior.