Egypt’s soaring death toll left Dr. Mohamed Al-Shabrawey asking a troubling question: “How many? How many?”
Al-Shabrawey, an associate professor at Georgia Regents University’s College of Dental Medicine and the Medical College of Georgia, could hardly comprehend the casualties that continued to rise Thursday as the nation sorted through bloodied bodies.
More than 600 were killed during clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
The Arab nation needs to settle the conflict peacefully instead of resorting to brutality, Al-Shabrawey said.
“I expected the administration to leave some room for a more peaceful end to conflict,” he said.
Al-Shabrawey, originally from Mansoura, Egypt, said his disappointment also falls on the Muslim Brotherhood. The opposing forces insist on extreme actions that take lives, he said.
“I feel pain. I cry hard when I see (images of) all these bodies,” he said.
Wednesday’s brutal police methods reversed progress toward a democratic nation, said Dr. Mohammed Elsalanty, also an associate professor at the dental school. He said he fears the killings will lead to further instability in Egypt.
“They are lighting the fuse,” he said. “It will only trigger more and more demonstrations in the country.”
Dr. Hossam Fadel, a retired physician from Martinez, said it’s disturbing to watch the conflict in his home country. Being so far away, the best he can do to help and support Egyptians is speak out on the need for the U.S. to cut off military aid to the country, Fadel said.
“The U.S. should not stand for that,” he said.
For local Egyptian-Americans, the turmoil stirs fears about the safety of family and friends closer to the fighting. Elsalanty calls his parents every day. They live just a few miles from the center of the protests in Cairo. He also reads Facebook updates from friends treating the wounded at makeshift hospitals.
“Life is paralyzed for them, basically,” he said. “People just want a quick settle to it so they can get along with their lives.”
During a visit to Cairo in June, Al-Shabrawey sensed tension and division but said the streets were calm. He can’t grasp how the peace turned to violence so quickly; on Thursday he learned that his cousin was undergoing an operation after being shot twice.
Fadel said that his few relatives in Egypt are safe but that it’s difficult to be reassured of their safety.
“We always have to be hopeful,” he said. “But frankly, I don’t see any immediate hope.”