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Opposition, Islamists Clash in Cairo

Opposition protesters clash with Islamists near Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo, after activists march to the building.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 3/22/2013, 10:29 PM

Muslim Brotherhood members gather in front the party's headquarters in Cairo
Muslim Brotherhood members gather in front the party's headquarters in Cairo
AFP photo

Opposition protesters clashed with Islamists near Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo on Friday, after activists marched to the building guarded by police and members of Egypt's ruling movement.

AFP reported that gunshots were heard as hundreds of opposition activists and the Islamists battled in the streets of the Mokattam neighborhood where the headquarters are situated, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Police fired tear gas at the protesters outside the headquarters before the clashes moved elsewhere in the neighborhood, the report said.

Protesters captured and beat three Brotherhood members. They also smashed up an ambulance evacuating a wounded Brotherhood supporter and detained him, AFP reported. Dozens were wounded by stones.

In Manial, a middle-class island on the Nile, men ransacked an office belonging to the Islamists and assaulted women holding an event marking Mother's Day, Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref told AFP.

"They trapped the women in the toilets and then destroyed the office's contents and threw them out onto the streets," Aref said.

As the clashes rumbled on, live television showed hundreds of protesters carrying anti-Brotherhood banners and making their way up to the hilly Mokattam neighborhood.

Opposition activists had called for the protest a week after they battled with the Islamists near the Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo. The movement vowed on Thursday it would protect its headquarters and bused in hundreds of supporters.

Primarily, "the protection of private and public property is the responsibility of the police," the group's secretary general Mahmud Hussein told a news conference.

"But the owner of every house has the right to defend it using all means. If the police don't carry out their responsibility, we will protect our property with all we posses," he added, according to AFP.

The Brotherhood has seen about 30 of its offices across the country attacked in widespread protests against President Mohammed Morsi, the Islamists' successful candidate in last June's election.

In the city of Mahalla on Friday, protesters set fire to the Brotherhood offices, throwing firebombs at the building, the state news agency MENA reported.

The Brotherhood was the main winner of parliamentary and senate elections last year. Its critics accuse it and Morsi of mirroring the tactics used by Mubarak against the opposition.

The Islamists clashed before with opposition activists, most notoriously in December when at least 11 people were killed in clashes outside the presidential palace after Morsi adopted extensive powers, since repealed.

Last week, a legal body representing Morsi filed an appeal against a court ruling cancelling the country’s controversial parliamentary polls.

On March 6, a lower court ordered the cancellation of the April 22 parliamentary elections because Morsi had ratified a new electoral law without sending it to the top court, as required by the constitution.

The Muslim Brotherhood ran into additional problems this week, when a panel of judges recommended its dissolution, saying it has no legal status.

The State Commissioners Board (SCB) recommended on Wednesday that the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) reject a longstanding appeal by the Muslim Brotherhood to revoke the 1954 decision made by former President Gamal Abdel Nasser's Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), declaring the group illegal and ordering its dismantling.

In response, the Muslim Brotherhood was officially registered as a non-governmental organization on Thursday.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)