Prosecution detains 15 over Brotherhood headquarters clashes

The Public Prosecution ordered the detention of 15 people Sunday for alleged involvement in clashes at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam, and ordered investigations into why they were present in the area at the time of the clashes.

The clashes took place Saturday between demonstrators on one side and Central Security Forces and Brotherhood members on the other. Authorities charged those arrested with thuggery, assaulting police, rioting, and possessing weapons, stones and Molotov cocktails.

Prosecutors also ordered the arrest of people accused of beating journalists and photographers that day.

Civil society and political groups as well as journalists condemned Saturday’s attack on activists and reporters. They protested outside the Brotherhood headquarters Sunday, and renewed clashes broke out between protesters and Central Security Forces.

They also called for a demonstration at the same location Friday. Members of the National Salvation Front opposition coalition and the liberal National Association for Change, as well as leftist former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, called for the demonstration, titled “Restoration of Dignity.”

Dozens of reporters and activists had protested at the Journalists Syndicate earlier Sunday against the attack, in which witnesses said Brotherhood members used sticks and iron chains against protesters and journalists, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. 

Newly elected Journalists Syndicate chief Diaa Rashwan and Al-Masry Al-Youm Editor-in-Chief Yasser Rizq, as well as syndicate board members Khaled al-Balshy, Hana Fekry and Abeer al-Saady participated in the demonstration.

Protesters chanted, “Hey, reporters, it was members of the Brotherhood who beat you!”

Rashwan said the attack on the reporters was unjustified.

“We did not see reporters attacking the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters,” he said.

The past few months have seen attacks on activists and journalists that many observers consider deliberate because they have occurred during demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsy’s regime. Some human rights groups have suspected Muslim Brotherhood involvement in the attacks.

The most notable attack was on Al-Husseini Abu Deif, a photojournalist from Al-Fajr newspaper, a publication that opposes the Brotherhood.

Abu Deif was killed in December while covering clashes between pro- and anti-Morsy protesters outside the presidential palace. Abu Deif’s lawyer has said Brotherhood members carried weapons during the clashes.

It seems the assault on journalists led political groups to organize a mass protest in a new way. The organizers developed a tactic that has not been used before to organize demonstrations in Egypt.

Organizers shared a document on Google Docs, giving citizens and activists the opportunity to participate by signing their names and posting their suggestions about the demonstration demands.

The organizers stated their demands in a statement attached to the document. The demands included the dismissal of the prosecutor general and the appointment of a replacement who represents the people, through the Supreme Judicial Council.

They also demanded an investigation into all past assaults on activists; the dismissal of Prime Minister Hesham Qandil’s Cabinet, which they called a “failure;” the appointment of a national unity government; the dismissal of the interior and justice ministers; an immediate halt to working with the “defected Constitution,” which it said does not represent all Egyptians; and the formation of a constituent assembly that equally includes national constitutional law experts, trade union representatives, political parties and various community groups.

The statement went beyond these demands, which have been usual for protests throughout the past few months, by demanding early presidential elections in September under full international supervision, management and control, as well as the formation of a committee of independent experts to revise the electoral rolls and coordinate with international organizations to ensure the integrity of any future electoral process in Egypt..

One of the demonstration’s coordinators, Haitham Shawaf, told state newspaper Al-Ahram’s website that those demands are a domestically and internationally clear political message that the Brotherhood Guidance Bureau is the country’s de facto ruler, through an illegal group not subject to the law.

Shawaf said the statement gathered more than 1,000 signatures in less than an hour, in addition to the signatures of political groups and revolutionary movements including the Second Revolution of Anger, the Free Front for Peaceful Change and the Free Egyptians Party.

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