Egypt street battles leave at least 82 dead - WNCN: News, Weather

Egyptian Americans in Raleigh react to violence

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Egyptian Americans in Raleigh are reacting to the escalating violence in Egypt.

Egypt's capital descended into chaos Aug. 16 as vigilantes at neighborhood checkpoints battled Muslim Brotherhood-led protesters denouncing the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi and a deadly crackdown. The fiercest street clashes Cairo has seen in more than two years of turmoil left at least 82 people dead, including 10 policemen.

Security officials said officers raided the Ramses Square mosque out of fears the Muslim Brotherhood again planned to set up a sit-in similar to those broken up Wednesday in assaults that killed hundreds of people. The Egyptian government meanwhile announced it had begun deliberations on whether to ban the Brotherhood, a long-outlawed organization that swept to power in the country's first democratic elections a year ago.

The Gamil's and the Elgamel's have been glued to their television sets all week watching their home country being pushed to the edge of chaos.

Across the country, at least 72 civilians were killed, along with 10 police officers, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
    
Friday's violence capped off a week that saw more than 700 people killed across the country - surpassing the combined death toll from two and a half years of violent protests since the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak until the toppling of Morsi in a July 3 coup.

Shereen Gamil is a school teacher in Wake County and calls both Egypt and America home. She hoped after decades of suppression, her people would thrive under Morsi's leadership.

"We finally had hope and we thought things would get better," said Gamil.

But she said democracy was not at the top of Morsi's priority list and is siding with the new interim government run by the military.

"We need to bring back a secular government. We don't want to turn Egypt into an Afghanistan," said Gamil.

Mohamed Elgamel lives in Raleigh and travels to Egypt at least once a month. He said she was not surprised by the demonstration, but despite escalating tensions, he doesn't believe Egypt will succumb to civil war.

"Egypt has a civilization that goes back to 3,000 years. So, Egypt is not going to be Syria, be Iraq. It's not going to be Libya" said Elgamel.

Mohamed and his family are torn between their lives in the U.S. and the lives of their extended family in Egypt.

"Of course I'm worried not only for myself, or for my family, I'm worried for all Egyptians. Everyone. I'm worried also for the Brotherhood. You know, because some of them are good people," said Elgamel.

And therein lays the biggest struggle for those on opposing sides. Despite conflicting beliefs, both families are trying to understand why Egyptians have to die, over differences in politics and in religion. 

The international community has urged both sides to show restraint and end the turmoil engulfing the nation. The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Friday that the death toll over the last few days is "shocking" and that responsibility weighs heavily on the interim government and the wider political leadership in Egypt.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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