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Investigation report stirs media debate over Brotherhood role during Tahrir uprising

Media leaks of a fact-finding enquiry suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood may have been involved in violence during the January Egypt revolution but the Islamist group vehemently denies any involvement

Ahram Online , Friday 4 Jan 2013
Battle of the Camel
A picture for the Battle of the Camel during the 25th January Revolution (Photo:Reuters)

Leaks of an investigation report issued by a fact-finding commission have stirred media debate over whether the Muslim Brotherhood had any role in the violence against protesters during the 2011 January revolution.

The commission, which was formed by Egypt President Mohamed Morsi to pinpoint the culprits in the killing of demonstrators during the 18-day uprising, has yet to make its report public but the media have leaked some of its content.

Ahmed Ragheb, a member of the commission, told the Associated Press that the report implicates the military and security forces in murdering more than 800 demonstrators during the revolution that ousted autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak.

“Mubarak knew of all the crimes that took place directly. The images were carried to him live, and he didn't even need security reports,” he added.

Mubarak was sentenced to life sentences for failing to prevent the killing of protesters.

Brotherhood role?

Leaks about the Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, stirred controversy after reportedly shedding light on the group’s role during the revolution.

Independent daily newspaper Watan quoted Mohsen Bahnasi, another member of the commission, as saying that the report found out that a Brotherhood unit named "Unit 95" was present in Tahrir Square during the 18 days.

“Two lawyers, Khaled El-Desouki and Raef Bishara, presented to the commission a video of an Al-Jazeera interview with Brotherhood member and current Minister of Youth Osama Yassin in July 2011, in which he proved the existence of such a unit,” Bahnasi argued.

However,  Yassin said in an article published in the newspaper of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) that  Brotherhood members climbed onto rooftops surrounding Tahrir square to protect demonstrators after they were shot by live ammunition.

“The commission is still investigating claims that the Brotherhood was involved in the Battle of the Camel violence against demonstrators,” Bahnasi added.

The infamous Battle of the Camel, which occurred on 2 February 2011, saw thousands of Mubarak supporters attack opposing protesters in Tahrir Square with camels and horses. On the same day, snipers were reportedly seen firing live ammunition from rooftops, killing 11 demonstrators.

A number of Mubarak-era figures were acquitted by court of involvement in the notorious battle.

For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood echoed the sentiment of Yassin, saying its members were only trying to confront “Mubarak’s thugs”.

“We would have never climbed onto the rooftops to shoot at demonstrators. We were trying to stop the Mubarak thugs from doing that,” Islam Fares, a Brotherhood member, was quoted as saying by Watan.

The purpose of the fact-finding commission is to find new evidence to retry those accused of killing demonstrators during the revolution which was backed by a decreee issued by Morsi on 22 November.

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