36 Muslim Brotherhood prisoners in military control died in Egypt on Sunday in what's bound to become the latest flashpoint in an ongoing conflict that's claimed over 800 lives so far. As the supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi continue to protest the military overthrow of Egypt's government, the interim leaders of the country try to dial back rhetorically on their crackdown against the protesters.
There are two stories circulating concerning the deaths of the Muslim Brotherhood prisoners. The first, from the government, explains that the prisoners were suffocated by tear gas during a prison escape attempt. But Muslim Brotherhood leaders say that the prisoners were killed by asphyxiation in the back of a security van. Over 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood loyalists have been arrested since the military crackdown began on Wednesday. Morsi, along with a handful of former leaders of the Islamist elected government, are being detained. The prisoners were reportedly detained during Saturday's raid on a Cairo mosque that had housed pro-Morsi demonstrators.
On Sunday, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi told Egyptians that "there is room for everyone" in the country, adding that he hoped Morsi's supporters would "rebuild the democratic path" with the rest of the country as part of the political process. Al-Sisi, popular among the myriad supporters of the military takeover of the government, was immortalized in some unbelievable propaganda today, using a template from Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Egyptian newspaper uses template of a Larry David add to promote General Sisi pic.twitter.com/VMAqyUCOBZ not a joke— David D. Kirkpatrick (@ddknyt) August 18, 2013
But al-Sisi's statements don't quite gel with the prevailing message emerging out of state media, which has alternately referred to Muslim Brotherhood supporters as "terrorists." The government is also considering a proposal that would effectively outlaw the group in the country, which would more or less bring the Islamist supporters of Morsi back to their semi-exile of Mubarak's rule.
As the political battle between Islamist Morsi loyalists and more or less everyone else in the country unfolds, attacks on the Christian minority in the population have been getting worse. The attackers, largely hard-line Islamist supporters of Mohamed Morsi, have burned dozens of churches across the country. As the Associated Press reports, some Morsi supporting groups believe that Christians in the country played an outsized role in the protests against the Islamist president, and are taking out their anger on the long-targeted communities.
While many of the planned protests today were cancelled, Muslim Brotherhood leaders have called for a week of daily demonstrations against the Egyptian military.