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Cape Town - When Anwar Ibraheem was summoned to the TV room at the back of his Gatesville shop on Wednesday, the first thing he did was scramble to find his phone.
Ibraheem, an Egyptian shopkeeper, has lived in Cape Town for 13 years.
“We saw on the news bodies in the road,” he said on Thursday. I called my brother Mohammed in Cairo and I could hear gunshots in the background. My brother assured me that he and the rest of the family were fine.”
Sapa reported on Thursday that more than 500 people were killed and more than 3 500 injured in Wednesday’s assaults on two Cairo protest camps of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in the country’s worst violence in decades.
Ibraheem’s relatives in Cairo had told him the once beautiful city was a war zone with heavily armed security officers and bloodstains on most roads.
“I am bleeding inside. I miss my country because all my family is there. I miss feeling the air in Cairo and eating our most traditional food. There should be no war in Africa because we are all African. We are all Muslim and at the moment we are all crying inside.”
Ibraheem owns an Islamic clothing store, Mr Egypt. He married in Cape Town in 2007 and has a five-year-old son, Attia. Asked whether he believed the situation would improve in Egypt, he said: “The situation in Egypt will return to normal. We are going through a fire now and we are paying a huge price for peace, but we will be a peaceful country again.
“I expected everything to improve after president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown.”
At a shop two doors down from Ibraheem, Egyptian shopkeeper Ashraf Achmat said all they were hoping for was peace.
“I don’t know who is at fault with the civil unrest. The state of emergency has sort of become like a war on the people. I have been following all the violence on Al Jazeera and I cried when I saw all the bodies in the road.”
Another Egyptian shopkeeper, who refused to be named, said: “I think Arab governments and its people should be left to fix their own problems... Whether you are a supporter of Mursi or the Muslim Brotherhood, we should all stand together because killing people is wrong.”