Clashes broke out in the city of Zaqazig, Sharqeya, Thursday evening as supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi took to the streets in support of his legitimacy.
Ahmed Gaber, media officer of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Zaqazig, said “huge numbers of protesters” marching in protest to the “military coup”, which took place on Wednesday, were attacked by “violent thugs”. He claimed protesters had nothing to do with the FJP or with the Muslim Brotherhood; describing them as mere Morsi supporters.
“Simultaneously,” Gaber said, “people roamed the streets and knocked on doors claiming that the Brotherhood is butchering people in the streets and wrecking shops.”
Gaber claimed “thugs” attacked pro-Morsi protesters with bladed weapons, swords and birdshot. He said the latter took refuge in Al-Nasr Mosque, where they were surrounded by the “thugs” who held them hostage.
“The police arrived and then begged the thugs to release the held protesters,” Gaber claimed. “The thugs were standing behind the police, firing birdshot in their presence.”
Mohamed Tawfiq, Al-Dostour Party member in Zagazig, claimed pro-Morsi protesters clashed with street vendors not with “thugs”. Tawfiq also claimed it was the pro-Morsi protesters who attacked the street vendors first. He added that once the clashes started, both parties used the weapons listed by Gaber against one another.
Tawfiq said the pro-Morsi protesters took refuge in the mosque when they were attacked. He claimed a group of almost 5000 residents surrounded the mosque and blocked their exit and prevented the police from intervening.
“The residents took to the streets to protect the revolution,” Tawfiq said. “They know their way to the streets now.”
Tawfiq stated the armed forces were able to separate between the pro-Morsi protesters and the residents well after midnight.
“The extent of malice and racism exercised against us was unimaginable,” Gaber said. He claimed that at least 200 pro-Morsi protesters were injured following the clashes. Tawfiq put the number of those injured at around 70, stating that they belonged to both parties of the conflict.
Mohamed Galal, Sharqeya Security Director, claimed 42 were hospitalised from both parties, adding that only three of them remained in hospital. Galal stated 13 pro-Morsi protesters were arrested from the scene of the clashes. Gaber claimed arrests were conducted from the hospital where those injured were staying.
Tensions have risen on Egypt’s streets since General Commander of the Armed Forces Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi announced on Wednesday night the ouster of Morsi and replaced him with interim president Adly Mansour. The decision came after nationwide protests starting 30 June which called for the overthrow of Morsi and early presidential elections.