Injuries from Alexandria clashes rise to 77

Ahram Online , Saturday 22 Dec 2012

Clashes between Islamists and those angry with a sheikh's perceived attempt to influence voters in Alexandria before the referendum on the constitution leaves 77 injured

An injured man during clashes at Alexandria, 14 December (Photo: Randa Ali)

The total number of injuries resulting from clashes that broke out between President Mohamed Morsi's Islamist supporters and secular opponents in Egypt's second-largest city, Alexandria, on Friday rose to 77, stated Egypt's health ministry spokesman Ahmed Omar late on Friday.

"Twenty six of those injured have been released from the hospital while 51 are still being treated in four different hospitals in Alexandria," Omar detailed.

Clashes erupted shortly after masses of Salafist Islamists gathered at Alexandria's Qaed Ibrahim Mosque Friday for what they dubbed "the million-man rally to defend [Islamist] clerics and mosques."

The rally, which was initially peaceful after Friday noon prayers in the Mediterranean city, broke out into clashes between Islamist demonstrators and opposition.

Rounds of teargas were fired into the crowds, forcing people to escape onto the Corniche (major seaside boulevard) near the mosque.

The Islamist rally was called for after a well-known Alexandrian Salafist cleric, Sheikh Ahmed El-Mahalawi, was held captive inside a mosque for 14 hours by worshippers angered by overtly Islamist rhetoric ahead of a constitutional referendum.

El-Mahalawy demanded in his sermon that worshippers seek the implementation of Sharia (Islamic law). The sermon was regarded as a not very discreet call to vote 'Yes' for the constitution that was drafted by a heavily Islamist constituent assembly.

Over 20 people were injured Friday in the ensuing confrontations in Alexandria and a few vehicles were set ablaze.

Fifty one were arrested on Saturday during the riots; 18 of whom are supporters of the Salafist cleric and 33 are from opponents, an Alexandria security official told Al-Ahram Arabic-language news website.

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