The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) on its official English language website released a statement late Wednesday where it claimed the death of Egyptian journalist El-Hosseiny Abou-Deif was a result of anti-Mohamed Morsi "paid thugs."
It further laid the blame on the umbrella opposition group, the National Salvation Front, headed by Constitution Party founder Mohamed ElBaradei and former presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa, for the death. It blamed them for "aiding and abetting" the anti-Morsi protesters.
In the statement published only on the English website of the party, not the Arabic, it announced that Abou-Deif had been standing amongst pro-Morsi demonstrators, "doing his duties as a journalist," when he was shot.
Abou-Deif, a journalist with the private weekly Al-Fajr newspaper, aged 33, succumbed to injuries resulting from a shot to the head on Wednesday. His funeral march late Wednesday was attended by a large number of journalists, activists, and family members, including his fiancé who lead the marches. "Down with Muslim Brotherhood rule," the marchers were heard chanting as they headed towards the Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo.
Omar Said, a close friend of Abou-Deif, told Ahram Online that the accusations were completely false and "illogical." He asserted that Abou-Deif was a long-time Nasserist since his days at Assiut University.
He stated, nonetheless, that Abou-Deif stood in support of the Muslim Brotherhood during massive arrest and torture campaigns conducted by the former Hosni Mubarak regime in the 2000's, and that this may be reason to why the Brotherhood is associating itself with him. Otherwise, Said testifies, Abou-Deif's ideology stands opposite to that of the Brotherhood.
Said further points to Abou-Deif's last statement on Twitter before taking part in protests 4 November at the presidential palace, which stands as proof he was part of the opposition.
He further adds that when shot on 5 November, following an attack on the opposition sit-in by pro-Morsi supporters, Abou-Deif was present with the opposition and was taking pictures of the raid. Friends nearby him heard the shot that ruptured his skull, Said states. He further underlined that while attempting to rush him to a nearby ambulance, a Morsi supporter snatched the camera in a clear assault.
A statement published by Abou-Deif's family Sunday — signed by six family members — lay responsibility on the regime and its supporters for his death. "We know very well, and his friends know very well, which side he was on. He was one of the country's revolutionaries," the statement noted.
His family released the statement after it refused the visit of Minister of Information Salah Abdel Maqsoud, who is considered a Brotherhood ally, to Qasr El-Aini Hospital where Abou-Deif was being treated while in a coma.
Said further noted that chants heard at his funeral Wednesday and Thursday in Assiut where directly anti-Brotherhood and against the "trading of the martyr's blood in the name of religion."
The FJP's English website cites a movement called "Journalists for Reform," an Islamist-leaning group, as expressing its grief and sorrow over the death of Abou-Deif, demanding retribution for his blood.
The movement held the National Salvation Front responsible, claiming it got into a "dubious alliance with the defunct National Democratic Party's former officials."
The struggle for legitimacy has been a prominent feature of the political crisis since Morsi's constitutional decree of 22 November and the conclusion of the draft constitution to be put to a referendum starting Saturday.
Opposition activists have deemed the draft constitution illegitimate and unrepresentative after more than 20 members of the drafting body, the Constituent Assembly, withdrew after calling repeatedly for a more democratic decision making process.
A fight over the affiliation of the martyrs of the revolution, especially from the presidential clashes, has been part of the struggle for legitimacy between the opposition and the Muslim Brotherhood. Ten were killed in clashes over the constitution.
After the death of Islam Fathi (Masoud), a teenager from the Nile Delta governorate of Damanhour, a similar debate ensued between the opposition and the Brotherhood after the latter announced he was a member of their group. Fathi died 25 November when the Brotherhood headquarters in Damanhour were torched.