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Brotherhood says it did not retaliate after being attacked 'for greater good'

At press conference, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood asserts it did not engage in clashes but was rather attacked, saying it did not respond for the 'greater good'

Ahram Online , Saturday 23 Mar 2013
MB press conference
Secretary General of the Muslim Brotherhood Mahmoud Hussein (Photo: Snapshot from Misr 25)

The Muslim Brotherhood said on Saturday it could have physically bested the 'perpetrators' who beat up members of the Islamic group at its main headquarters, but abstained from such an engagement "for the greater good."

During a press conference held by the Brotherhood at its headquarters in Cairo's Al-Mokattam district, which was attacked by hundreds on Friday, the group's secretary general Mahmoud Hussein promised to take legal actions against the assailants and not resort to violence.

"The Muslim Brotherhood were assaulted, we did not attack anyone," said Hussein from a stage, surrounded by a host of Brotherhood youth including two who were injured in the clashes.

Hussein accused protesters of attacking the group's headquarters and nearby mosques as well as firing pellet bullets at citizens.

"Some of those who claim to be revolutionaries or activists are trying to drag the country to disasters and civil wars in an attempt to force the Muslim Brotherhood to enter a cycle of violence," he added.

"The Muslim Brotherhood youth could have beaten the attackers without weapons. If the group’s members hadn’t controlled their temper for the sake of the country’s interests, the scene would have been different."

Hussein called on Egypt’s security apparatus to take the needed measures within the realm of law against "criminals who call for violence."

He, however, thanked the security forces for their efforts to contain the situation on Friday, pointing out Egypt’s police force is suffering from a crisis caused by the former regime.

Hussein called on supporters to stick to peaceful discourse and reject violence incitements. He further criticised whoever condemned the violence after calling for the protests "in spite of knowing that it would definitely lead to violence."

The Islamist group’s secretary general did not announce the figures it holds accountable for Friday’s events, stating that the Brotherhood is pursuing legal action through compiling all footages and documentations from Friday to send to investigative authorities.

"We were told the Constitution Party locked a group of Muslim Brotherhood members inside the headquarters in Cairo’s Moqattam district. However, we have no proof yet," added Hussein.

During the press conference, a video of compiled footage and photographs of Friday’s clashes showed supporters and members of the Brotherhood being brutally beaten. The bloody scenes provoked angry chants among the Brotherhood's youth.

"The people want the purging of the media," chanted some Brotherhood members, accusing the media of being biased against the Muslim Brotherhood and causing discontent among some of the journalists at the conference.

"Why the chanting against the media? We are not part of this, besides all those present have suffered when they were defending the Muslim Brotherhood at the time of state security [under Mubarak’s ruling]," protested one of the journalists.

Hussein, for his part, stressed on the Brotherhood’s respect for all media professionals, asserting that if violations have occurred, it does not represent all media figures.

"We welcome freedom of expression that represent the full truth, even if we were mistaken," added Hussein.

Some young cadres of the Brotherhood have called for protests before the Media Production City on the outskirts of Cairo. The group distanced itself from the calls but said its members have the right to protest as individuals.

Regarding the calls for protests in front of the Egyptian Media Production City  on Sunday, Hussein stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood have not called for protests in front of any institute, even if any of its members choose to join, adding that he refused “generalisations against all media figures” because of the unprofessionalism of a few. "If any of our youth decide to join, it will be on their own responsability," he added. 

When asked to elaborate on the “silence of the presidency” regarding the violent clashes, Hussein stressed that he is not a spokesman of the presidency.

"The presidency definitely condemn the violence and the shedding of blood," he affirmed.

According to the Muslim Brotherhood statement read out by Hussein, the attack on the Brotherhood members has left hundreds injured. He said 176 were transferred to hospitals, 26 of which remain in a critical condition after suffering from internal bleeding in the brain or chest after being shot by pellet bullets.

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 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.

NSF leader Mohamed ElBaradei also denounced the use of violence, holding the regime responsible for failing to deal with the reasons that led to the eruption of violence.

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.

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