At hospitals, friends held vigils for those who still clung to life. Among them was El-Hosseini Abul-Deif, a journalist who was shot once in the middle of his forehead after he photographed a Morsi supporter armed with a gun, his friends said.
Amer said that he and his neighbors had traveled from Suez to show support peacefully for Morsi in the dispute, which was triggered Nov. 22 when Morsi declared his actions above review by the country’s courts, a move his opponents have called an illicit grab for power to push through a hastily produced constitution written by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Amer said he and his friends arrived at the presidential palace about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and stood with other Morsi supporters on the street that runs in front of the compound. As they chanted with fellow supporters, a crowd suddenly surrounded them and started throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, he explained, pulling down his socks to show how he was injured. They threw the only weapons they had – rocks – to push the crowd back, he said.
“In one minute, I swear, I saw 10 people shot,” he recalled.
As they fled, Amer was separated from his neighbor and fellow Morsi supporter, Yasser Ibrahim. Hours passed, so Amer tried to call Ibrahim’s cellphone number. Someone else answered, however, and Amer assumed that that person had stolen Ibrahim’s phone in the battle. Amer traveled back to Suez and went to his neighbor’s house to check on Ibrahim. “He is not with you?” his wife asked. “He didn’t come home.”
Amer, who had been back in Suez for just one hour, returned to Cairo and began searching hospitals. At one they said there was one unidentified body, and Amer went to see if it was his friend. He didn’t recognize the man. His right eye had been blown out, his brain was outside its skull and there were gunshot wounds along the right side of his body.
But the shirt was Ibrahim’s, and Amer knew his friend was dead. He spoke from the morgue where he was waiting for an autopsy to be completed so he could bring Ibrahim home.
Amer began to cry.
“We don’t want to take all the power,” he said. “We want Egypt to move in the right direction. But we can’t let people keep changing the president every few months. He was elected.”
On Friday, the judiciary announced that all charges against those arrested had been dropped since there were no accusations made by either police or the Brotherhood members who’d arrested them.
But that brought little comfort to either side. Nobody had emerged a winner.
McClatchy special correspondent Amina Ismail contributed.