Members of the Muslim Brotherhood stand guard as activists and demonstrators against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (Photo: Reuters)
Activists and opposition groups have called for a demonstration in front of the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood on Friday, to protest what they describe as attacks by Brotherhood members and security forces on opposition activists.
Dubbed the 'Friday of Restoring Dignity,' the call was prompted after Muslim Brotherhood members and guards attacked a group of anti-Brotherhood activists and graffiti artists on Saturday, outside the Islamist group’s headquarters in the district of Mokattam. Police repeatedly sought to disperse the crowds with teargas.
Subsequent clashes erupted Sunday when police again used force to disperse a hundreds-strong protest by activists, who had gathered in front of the headquarters to protest the Brotherhood's "assault" on Saturday.
"The call was first raised by independent figures to stress the right of freedom of demonstration, and also to protest the attacks on protesters, especially on females," rights lawyer and activist Malek Adly told Ahram Online.
Adly added that there would be two main demonstrations in the southern Cairo district of Mokattam which will start after Friday's noon prayers. One protest will be held in Nafoura Square near the Brotherhood headquarters and the second will be held in front of the building itself.
"Many groups who agree with the purpose of the call have responded and will take part in organising the demonstrations," rights lawyer and activist Malek Adly told Ahram Online.
Some opposition parties responded to the call for protest, including the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Constitution Party, the main partisan constituents of Egypt's umbrella opposition group the National Salvation Front.
Opposition parties have condemned the events of Saturday and Sunday, blaming the interior ministry for failing to arrest those who attacked protesters on Saturday.
Following the Saturday incident, the liberal Constitution Party, led by Mohamed ElBaradei, condemned the "criminal assaults" by Brotherhood "militias" on political activists, journalists and photographers.
Also in a statement earlier this week, the liberal Free Egyptians Party said that “the [Saturday] incident showed that the real ruler of Egypt is the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide [Mohamed Badie] and not President Mohamed Morsi."
Images and footage of a well-built man aggressively slapping a woman across the face during Saturday's clashes went viral on social networks, drawing a chorus of denunciation of the Islamist group and its members.
Opposition groups have announced a set of demands, including removing the current cabinet and the Morsi-appointed prosecutor-general, and to investigate the killing of protesters during the latest violent episodes.
Such demands are expected to be reiterated by the opposition parties who will take part in Friday's protests.
Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud said in a statement Tuesday that the group is conducting an internal investigation into the events of the weekend, and will announce to the public the investigation's findings, adding that the group “will not hesitate” to take legal action against any of its young members should they have committed violations.
Senior Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan said that protesters, joined by some journalists and photographers at the scene, were the ones who provoked the young Brotherhood members deployed at the group’s headquarters.
The Brotherhood is to hold a press conference Thursday morning to comment on the events of Saturday and Sunday.
The presidency and the Brotherhood have been at loggerheads with anti-government protesters and opposition forces for weeks, after a spate of violent clashes that started on the second anniversary of the 25 January uprising.