Thousands of opponents & supporters of Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood clashed Friday near the group’s Cairo headquarters, where riot police guarded the building, and the corrupt politicians inside of it.
April 2, 2013
In another Cairo neighborhood, young protesters broke into the Brotherhood party’s office in Manial and stole some items, according to security officials. More than a dozen such attacks on the Islamists’ offices took place late last year across the country during violent protests over the drafting of the constitution and temporary power-grabbing decrees by the president.
The opposition charges that the Brotherhood’s leadership is influencing Morsi, and that they are trying to monopolize power through the presidency. The Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, denies that.
Friday’s protest is also symbolic because it followed a week of demonstrations outside Brotherhood’s doorstep en masse.
One sign held aloft by a protester outside the headquarters read: ‘‘Who is ruling Egypt?’’ The scene was reminiscent of clashes that took place late last year outside the presidential palace in Cairo between Morsi’s supporters and opponents. Ten people died in those clashes.
Protesters on Friday were demanding the Brotherhood apologize for an assault on journalists and activists last week outside the group’s headquarters. The Brotherhood says its guards were instigated by the protesters. The anti-Brotherhood protesters are also demanding the resignation of the attorney general and the interior minister, both appointed by Morsi. The interior minister authorized security forces to use excessive force against protesters. More than 70 people have been killed in protests with police since he was appointed in January.
Fatima Khalifa, 30, said she was demonstrating to send a message to the Brotherhood that they are the aggressors. ‘‘Morsi must be tried for killings of protesters just like Mubarak,’’ she said, referring to Morsi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2011 after nearly 30 years in power.
Clashes also broke out Friday in Egypt’s second largest city of Alexandria, when several thousand anti-Brotherhood protesters came under attack by unknown assailants who threw rocks and fired birdshot at them outside a military area in Sidi Gaber where anti-government protests often take place.
In the sprawling Cairo neighborhood of Muqattam, where the Brotherhood’s headquarters is based, roads were littered with rocks. There was no traffic and shops had been closed beforehand in preparation for the violent clashes.
An Associated Press correspondent saw members of the anti-Brotherhood camp beating with their fists people in the crowd suspected of being members of the Islamist group. The Brotherhood’s website claimed the incident, saying that ‘‘thugs’’ were attacking anyone heading toward the Brotherhood office.
Several anti-Brotherhood protesters were seen bloodied and being rushed to ambulances.
Clashes erupted at a nearby square after a large pro-Brotherhood march approached the headquarters. The protesters moved a few blocks away to Fountain Square after being hit with rocks from rooftops of nearby buildings. The square lies at the entrance of Muqattam, which overlooks the city.
It was not immediately clear how the clashes broke out around Fountain Square, but drops of blood marked the area. Some of the protesters covered their faces with black masks as ambulances evacuated the wounded from the site.
Anti-Brotherhood protester Hussein el-Sayyid said he saw three people with their faces slashed, suggesting some blades or knives were being used in the fighting.
‘‘We are Egyptians eating one another when we should be one hand,’’ he said.
Elsewhere in Egypt, protesters took to the streets to demand the dissolution of the Brotherhood, which has emerged as the most powerful political group in the country since the 2011 revolt.