Egyptian President Mohammed Morsiís supporters beat an opponent, center, during clashes outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 (Photo: AP)
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has stated that Wednesday's clashes outside the presidential palace in Cairo were perpetrated by "hoards of thugs," alleging a "conspiracy" against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Islamist group from which he hails.
"The conspiracy was an attempt to storm the presidential palace, occupy it and overthrow the regime and [its democratic] legitimacy," read a Thursday statement issued by the group. The statement went on to assert that the attempt had been thwarted by the "sacrifices of our brothers, who forsook their lives and blood to protect [democratic] legitimacy and the revolution."
The Brotherhood said the "thugs" had been armed with different types of light weapons and firearms, in addition to Molotov cocktails and teargas canisters. It also alleges that five of its members were killed in the violence.
Morsi supporters on Wednesday forcefully dispersed a sit-in by opposition protesters, who had flocked to the presidential palace in Cairo on Tuesday in the hundreds of thousands. Protesters voiced their rejection of recent decisions by the president that they deem "dictatorial."
Clashes ensued between both camps after Morsi supporters took over the area of the sit-in. Stones, Molotov cocktails and firearms were used by both sides in the clashes, which lasted for several hours into Wednesday night.
The group in its statement identified the "conspirators" as those who stood against Egypt's 2011 popular uprising, saying that these individuals used foreign funds to direct the assault on the presidential palace.
"The conspiracy that failed yesterday [Wednesday] was carried out by those who fought the revolution and conspired and are still conspiring against it, and those who use illicit money stolen from the Egyptian people that they are receiving from abroad," they said.
The Brotherhood cited attacks against its headquarters and those of its Freedom and Justice Party in several governorates as proof of conspiracy.
Blame was also directed at politicians whom the Brotherhood charges with putting their personal interests ahead of those of the country.
"A politician does not use or incite violence, and a revolutionary doesn't wield a weapon against his fellow citizen," the statement asserted.
At least six people were killed and 600 injured in the clashes. The Brotherhood statement says 1500 were injured, saying also that snipers had been present at the scene.
The group pledged to continue its sacrifices until the "achievement of the revolution's goals against attempts to carry out a coup against the popular will, the revolution, and its objectives."
Clashes erupted after two weeks of simmering tension due to a 22 November constitutional declaration by Morsi, which gave him immunity from judicial oversight and protected the Constituent Assembly (tasked with drafting a new constitution) from dissolution.
Morsi supporters claim the withdrawals that have plagued the assembly were a form of political pressure by liberal forces. Many of the president's supporters see the constitutional declaration as a legitimate move by a president who was elected by the people in Egypt's first free presidential polls.
The opposition also argues that the draft constitution – which will be put before a popular referendum next week after having been written by Egypt's Islamist-led Constituent Assembly – would have an adverse effect on longstanding revolutionary demands for civil liberties and social benefits.