Clashes at the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters in Cairo's Moqattam district intensified late on Saturday, with a number of journalists reportedly assaulted by members of the Islamist group.
Violence first broke out earlier in the day after a meeting between Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.
Dozens of protesters gathered at the Islamist group's HQ to condemn President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, and Badie, who many critics say is the actual ruler of the country.
The violence led to renewed accusations that the Muslim Brotherhood sends people to assault members of the opposition. The Islamist group faced similar accusations in late 2012 when its supporters and opponents clashed in front of the presidential palace in Cairo.
Activist Ahmed Doma, a staunch critic of the Morsi government, sustained injuries after he was beaten up by what he said was a Brotherhood “militia.”
Doma said the Brotherhood members were “aggressive” and indiscriminately beat protesters, including women, and journalists.
Egypt’s privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper said its journalist, Mohamed Talaat, was assaulted by “young members of the Muslim Brotherhood” on Saturday.
He was attacked, the newspaper said, when he spoke with young people drawing anti-Brotherhood graffiti on the perimeter of the group’s headquarters.
Brotherhood members, according to the report, pushed him away, before verbally and physically assaulting him when he said he was a journalist.
Amr Hafez, a photographer from Al-Watan – another private daily – said he was injured when Brotherhood members attacked those drawing graffiti.
Hafez told ONTV that a Brotherhood member threw a chair at him.
Photographer Mohamed Nabil picked up a foot injury in a similar manner, Hafez said.
Meanwhile, those drawing graffiti were also attacked by the Brotherhood members.
Diaa Rashwan, newly elected head of the Journalists' Syndicate, was quoted by several media reports as saying the presidency must apologise for the assaults on journalists.
Conversely, senior Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan said some journalists and photographers had been involved in “provocative” acts alongside protesters.
A number of demonstrators swore at Brotherhood “youth” deployed at the group’s headquarters, Ghozlan added.
Yasser Mehrez, a Brotherhood spokesperson, said: “Everybody has freedom of expression and the right to protest, but insults and sabotage are unacceptable."
"Clashes erupted because some people tried to break into the Brotherhood’s headquarters," Mehrez added. "The young members of the Brotherhood did not intend to assault journalists or anyone else.”
Central Security Forces used teargas several times on Saturday to restore order.
Around midnight, several protesters hurled rocks at police who had blocked the streets surrounding the Brotherhood headquarters. A police vehicle was torched by protesters.
Several offices of the Brotherhood across the country have been attacked and torched during violent protests over the past few months.