Millions demand ouster of Egyptian president

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
July 1, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood HQ overrun after weekend protests, U.S. accused of spying on allies, and government forces bombard Homs, Syria. Today is Monday, July 1, a day to sing Oh, Canada. Here’s the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Looters carry furniture and other objects out of the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters after it was burned down by protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi in Cairo’s Moqattam district, July 1, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Mursi vs. the millions. Anti-government protesters frustrated by economic stagnation and fearing institutional Islamization took to the streets this weekend in the largest demonstrations since 2011, demanding that Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi step down but failing to budge the government. Egypt’s powerful military essentially issued the contentious leadership an ultimatum in response to the protests:

A dramatic military statement broadcast on state television declared the nation was in danger after millions of Egyptians took to the streets on Sunday to demand that Mursi quit and the headquarters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood were ransacked. “If the demands of the people are not realized within the defined period, it will be incumbent upon (the armed forces)… to announce a road map for the future,” said the statement by chief-of-staff General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Guards inside Muslim Brotherhood headquarters shot at young protesters throwing fire bombs and rocks at the building overnight, killing eight in the most violent incident so far. (Reuters footage available here). The protesters now occupy the office following the evacuation of employees. Organizers have called on demonstrators to maintain a peaceful presence in central squares until Tuesday, when another massive rally will be held if Mursi doesn’t resign. The demonstrations have left at least 16 dead, including one American student, and nearly 800 injured. Women’s activists say at least 43 women were sexually assaulted in organized attacks.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference at the 46th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, July 1, 2013. REUTERS/Ahim Rani

Spying on friends? A German magazine report that the U.S. has been spying on the European Union and other allies has EU representatives demanding an explanation:

In an article that sparked EU outrage, Der Spiegel said on Saturday that the National Security Agency (NSA) bugged EU offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks. On Sunday the German magazine reported that the U.S. agency taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month, much more than any other European peer and similar to the data tapped in China or Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry defended the U.S. on Monday in the first response to the allegations, offering a non-apology by saying that “every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs and national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security… it is not unusual for lots of nations.”

A Free Syrian Army fighter stands on a ladder as he holds his weapon in the Al-Khalidiya neighborhood of Homs, June 28, 2013. REUTERS/Yazan Homsy

Regime loyalists fight for Homs. Government efforts to reclaim the central Syrian city of Homs continued for a second day on Sunday in a battle that may prove more difficult than recent government victories over rebel troops:

Anwar Abu al-Waleed, an activist, said rebel brigades were prepared to fight a long battle, unlike in Qusair and Tel Kalakh, two towns in rural Homs near the border with Lebanon that fell to loyalist forces in recent weeks. “We are talking about serious urban warfare in Homs. We are not talking about scattered buildings in an isolated town but a large urban area that provides a lot of cover,” he said. State media said the army had “destroyed terrorist concentrations” in several districts of Homs and made “big progress” in Khalidiya.

Opposition leaders say they fear the government will use chemical weapons against them in Homs, and Gulf Arab states on Monday asked to meet with the U.N. Security Council to discuss ways to prevent a massacre in the city.

Nota Bene: Pakistan enrages Afghans by suggesting the government share power with the Taliban.

Standouts:

Call your mother - A new Chinese law would allow elderly parents to sue their children for not getting in touch. (The Associated Press)

Skeletal reunion - A Vietnam war veteran is reunited with the bones of his left arm, amputated 47 years ago. (BBC)

Secrets squared - India’s new surveillance program is way worse than Prism. (Quartz)

Transylvanian fairy tale - Photographs show an idyllic Transylvanian town where villagers spend their days making hay in the fields. (The New York Times)

Bigger is better - China unveils the world’s largest building, which could hold 20 Sydney Opera Houses. (CNN)

From the File:

UPDATE: This version of the post updates the Egypt death toll to the most recent figure. 

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