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Beating of naked protester at presidential palace induces widespread condemnation

Opposition, the in-power Islamist party reps and interior ministry all quickly point fingers after a dismaying video goes viral of naked protester beaten by security at the presidential palace

Ahram Online , Saturday 2 Feb 2013
Views: 4119
Views: 4119

Violence at the Egyptian president's palace on Friday sees an immediate uproar of protests against President Mohamed Morsi and interior minister on the one hand and scathing scolds against opposition protesters on the other.

Thousands marched Friday around the presidential palace to demand the dismissal of Hisham Qandil’s cabinet, the appointment of a new prosecutor-general and amendments to Egypt’s recently-approved constitution.

The mostly peaceful demonstration was disrupted, however, by some who threw Molotov cocktails at the palace, which set a minor fire in the garden.

Security quickly responded with tear gas. By late night a young protester, Mohamed Korani, was confirmed dead and a video went viral showing a naked man being beaten by security forces in front of the palace.

According to Ahram Online reporter, Bel Trew, who was an eyewitness to the brutal attack, the man was detained by Central Security as they were clearing the street in front of the presidential palace.

At least one police officer dragged the shirtless middle-aged man along the street by his feet with his trousers and underwear around his ankles. Trew points out that the man did not appear to resist at any moment nor threaten the police.

At least eight officers intermittently kicked him, said Trew and he was later thrown in one of the vehicles. Another truck arrived after a few minutes later and the injured man, still naked, was violently kicked, pushed and dragged across the asphalt from the first vehicle and shut into the truck.

Many politicians severely condemned the attack, holding both the president, cabinet and the interior minister responsible.

The head of Al-Wafd party and member of the National Salvation Front, Sayed El-Badawy, described the attack in a press statement as a "waste of his human dignity."

El-Badawy further demanded the dismissal of Qandil’s cabinet as an apology "to the Egyptians for the degradation of one of its people."

"Dragging citizens yesterday [Friday] is enough of a reason to have a government dismissed in any upstanding country that respects the law," he added.

Meanwhile, the Youth for Justice and Freedom movement held the president responsible for the "unjustified violence" that took place in front of the presidential palace and condemned him for ignoring the revolutionaries' demands to "purge the interior ministry."

Former parliamentarian and head of the Free Egypt Party, Amr Hamzawy, for his part, blamed the security forces for its use of violence against protesters.

"Stripping and dragging an Egyptian is a crime that indicates that excessive violence and oppressive tactics are still used by security," he tweeted, emphasising that "It's a crime and both the president and his interior minister are responsible."

"It’s a crime that contradicts with the sanctity of blood and the preservation of human dignity, which was written in Al-Azhar’s initiative," he added.

On Thursday the Sunni world's religious authority based in Cairo, Al-Azhar launched an initiative calling for an end to the violence and bloodshed.

Hamzawy also took the moment to reject the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to hold the opposition responsible for the violence, while disregarding the crimes and violence by security forces.

Following the news of the attack on the man, the interior ministry denounced the assault on the protester, vowing to investigate the incident.

The ministry’s response was positively received by a number of Islamist figures.

The head of the majority party and the Muslim Brotherhood political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party's Saad El-Katatni expressed his content with the minister’s fast call for investigations.

El-Katatni, however, asserted that he is against any use of violence, denouncing whoever threw Molotov cocktails at the presidential palace.

On his official Facebook page he expressed his disapproval of the violation of human rights and the degradation of any citizen’s dignity.

"We ask all politicians to not give a political veneer or justify the use of violence. We also demand that the interior ministry announce the results of the investigations regarding the attack on the protester," wrote El-Katatni

Similarly, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref praised the interior ministry's "apology" for the incident, describing the decision as "wise behaviour."

Khaled El-Sharif media consultant of the Building and Reform party, the political wing of Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiya, also condemned the police attack, specifying that "This is a vicious violation of human rights."

El-Sherif, however, added that the attack on the palace was in itself "a larger crime" which needs to be punished.

"The ones behind this crime are trying to topple the regime, and drag the country to chaos," added the media consultant.

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