Brotherhood condemns attacks by 'thugs' on its Egypt offices
Ahram Online, Saturday 23 Mar 2013
The Muslim Brotherhood takes to the airwaves and TV to condemn 'criminal' attacks on their offices saying the group has survived numerous challenges for over 8 decades

Anti-Muslim Brotherhood clashes have sparked general anger and condemnation across various media outlets associated with the Islamist group and some of its prominent leaders.

The Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), for one, condemned attacks on its offices in a statement Saturday.

About 200 people were injured when anti-Brotherhood protesters clashed with members of the group at Brotherhood headquarters in Mokattam, Cairo and stormed a number of its offices across the country on Friday.

The statement said that the violence by "thugs" is a "criminal act" that requires "prosecuting the perpetrators."

The Brotherhood also condemned Gharbiya's security director for "failing to lift the siege off Qadous Mosque" where a number of Brotherhood members were trapped inside as protesters surrounded the mosque in Mahalla on Friday.

Muslim Brotherhood Media Spokesman Ahmed Aref argued on his official Facebook page Friday that the clashes have proven that alleged "Brotherhood militias," that sparked a lot of controversy recently do not exist.

"Thugs carrying arms and Molotov cocktails have been attacking the Muslim Brotherhood for the past 12 hours... If [Brotherhood militias] existed, the scene would have been different," he said.

"Criminal killings" is how Mohamed El-Beltagi, leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, described the clashes at the Brotherhood offices in a phone interview with Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr TV channel.

El-Beltagi said on Friday that "it is thugs - and not revolutionaries - who carry firearms, drag and beat citizens.

"Who is behind these people and who is funding them?" he asked.

El-Beltagi emphasised that protesters should use "political means" to achieve their political demands and not "terrorise citizens and use violence."

FJP Vice President Essam El-Erian said that the clashes "do not disturb [him]" despite his sorrow for "the injured and the time [the protesters] are wasting."

"The Brotherhood [since it was founded in Egypt in 1928], has lived throughout the rule of three kings, four presidents – they all ended and the Brotherhood has survived: a divine humanitarian universal call," he said.

Nor was the Brotherhood broken by the killing of their founder, Hassan El-Banna in 1949, nor by the persecution they faced in the form of imprisonment or excluding them from vital institutions, such as the police, the army and the judiciary over the years, he emphasised.

"The idea has remained, the sacrifices increased... and today the Brotherhood is facing a new challenge in which God will grant them success as long as [they stand by their principles]," El-Erian said.

Friday's protests, dubbed "The Friday of Restoring Dignity" quickly descended into violence.

The demonstrations were called for by several opposition activists to respond to what they described as "attacks" by Muslim Brotherhood members on protesters at the Mokattam headquarters last week.

Several opposition groups responded to the call for protests, including the youth of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Free Egyptians Party and the Constitution Party, all of which are part of the National Salvation Front (NSF) umbrella opposition group.

April 6 Youth Movement condemned the violence saying that revolutionaries should not use force to demand their rights. However, the movement also blamed the Brotherhood for prompting the violence, citing previous incidents and the group's "failure" to lead the country.

Meanwhile, moderate Islamist figure and head of the Strong Egypt Party Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh blamed the "absence of the state" and the "presidency's inability to contain the rift" [between government and opposition] for the escalating violence in Egypt.