Police dispersed a gathering of around 300 demonstrators in front of the Muslim Brotherhood’s main headquarters in Moqattam Sunday.
Central Security Forces (CSF) personnel charged at the crowd with armoured vehicles and launched teargas canisters while also firing birdshot in the air.
The demonstrators had gathered in protest of clashes that occurred Saturday when Muslim Brotherhood youth attacked a group of graffiti artists painting near the Brotherhood’s building as well as assaulted accompanying journalists covering the event.
“Freedom and justice, they said. Then they beat up women,” protesters chanted on Sunday, referring to a Muslim Brotherhood member female activist Mervat Moussa and knocking her to the ground on Saturday.
They also chanted against the Brotherhood, its Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, and President Mohamed Morsi.
Police arrived early to the protests and initially avoided intervention. Officers charged the protest when crowd began to grow larger.
At the time of print, the protesters had retreated onto the main street and directed their chants towards the police, accusing them of treason and protecting the regime.
A group of political activists and journalists were allegedly attacked Saturday afternoon by Muslim Brotherhood members in Moqattam. The Brotherhood accused the political activists of provoking and indecently attacking its members.
In a statement, Brotherhood Spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan stated that plans to attack the headquarters have been circulating for days. He said that an unidentified group called for a Saturday protest outside the headquarters.
“Those who attended the protest were intent on cursing Muslim Brotherhood leaders and provoking the youth present outside the headquarters,” Ghozlan said in the statement. He added that the journalists present also contributed to the violence. “Their actions led to limited clashes we completely reject.”
The Brotherhood stressed their right to defend themselves against any attacks. They also voiced their respect for news outlets which cover news professionally and objectively.
Brotherhood Spokesperson Yasser Mehrez told Egypt 25 channel that the Brotherhood members did not intend to attack the journalists outside the headquarters. He added that clashes erupted when protesters attempted to break into the headquarters. “The calls for protests outside the Brotherhood headquarters were as far from peaceful protesting as could be,” Mehrez said.
Moussa denied the Brotherhood’s story. She told independent channel CBC she went to Moqattam alongside other political activists in order to take part in a pre-planned graffiti event. She said that while painting pictures of revolutionary victims, men coming out of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters began attacking her, other activists and journalists present.
“They came out of the headquarters armed with sticks, rocks and knives,” said Moussa. The female activist was caught on camera as one man slapped her on the face, pushing her to the ground.
Clashes renewed later that night between protesters and the CSF. Protesters threw rocks at the CSF, which answered by using teargas, reported state-owned Al-Ahram. Two police cars and one private car were reportedly set on fire amid the clashes.
Fifteen protesters were arrested and referred to investigation at the Moqattam prosecution in Zeinhom Court on Sunday, according to No Military Trials member Ahmed Ibrahim Saeed. Saeed added that the detainees were accused of sabotaging public property and attacking the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters.
Tarek Abu Zeid, the South Cairo attorney general, delegated a committee to examine the burnt cars and trace for fingerprints, reported Al-Ahram.
In a statement, the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights (ECWR) condemned the “brutal attack” on Moussa. The attack coincided with Egyptian Women’s day. The centre linked the attack on Moussa to the sexual assault women have been recently facing in Tahrir Square.
“This is a continuation of the Brotherhood’s hostile stance against women,” the statement read.
Newly elected Press Syndicate chairman, Diaa Rashwan, condemned the attack on the journalists. Rashwan called on Brotherhood Supreme Guide Badie to apologise for the attacks. He also called on the presidency to condemn the violence against the journalists.
The syndicate head told Saudi channel MBC Masr that two protests will be held by journalists later this week in response to the attacks; one outside the prosecutor general’s office, and the other outside the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guidance office.
Four journalists whom were allegedly attacked outside the headquarters filed a report at the Moqattam Police Station on Saturday against President Morsi, Badie and the supreme guide’s deputy Khairat Al- Shater, reported Al-Ahram. The journalists accused Al-Shater’s bodyguards of attacking them outside the Brotherhood headquarters.
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) released a statement on Sunday condemning the attack on journalists. The organisation stressed the media professionals’ right to freely do their job.
“This incident cannot be separated from previous attacks on journalists and the killing of journalist Al-Hosseini Abu Deif or the attacks on the Al-Wafd and Al-Watan newspapers,” the statement read. The EOHR also called on the prosecutor general to investigate the attack.
The Al-Dostour Party announced its solidarity with the journalists and political activists attacked “at the hands of the Brotherhood’s militias” in a statement released on Sunday. It called on the security authorities to immediately intervene in order to legally punish those responsible for the attack.
The party linked the attacks to what they described as the “clearly growing authority of politically-affiliated militias belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya“. Al-Dostour said the militias’ expansion came in response to Morsi and the prosecutor general’s recommendations.
The prosecutor general highlighted a law last week that allows citizens to arrest those who vandalise public and private property, block roads, and prevent public officials from carrying out their duties, among other crimes.