Dozens hurt in Egypt's Tanta in clashes over new Brotherhood governor

Ahram Online , Tuesday 18 Jun 2013

Following demonstrations against controversial appointment of Gharbiya's new governor, skirmishes erupt between opponents, supporters of President Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood

Clashes in Tanta, Egypt's third largest city, between Muslim Brotherhood members and activists demonstrating against the appointment of a new governor drawn from the Brotherhood were met with teargas by Egyptian police on Tuesday.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made a series of gubernatorial appointments on Sunday, handing the administration of seven of Egypt's 27 governorates – including Gharbiya, of which Tanta is the regional capital – to Brotherhood members.

According to the health ministry, 26 protesters were injured in Tuesday's skirmishes between both groups after protesters converged on the governor's office in an attempt to bar the new governor, Ahmed El-Beili, from entering, Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website reported.

El-Beili had previously served as head of the Brotherhood's administrative office in Gharbiya.

On Sunday night, El-Beili told Al-Ahram that the "different political factions should coexist in the current situation to help build the country's future."

The Brotherhood, for its part, has accused the security apparatus of allowing protesters to seal the gates of the governor's office on Monday night, according to Al-Ahram.

Egyptian state news agency MENA reported that hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the latter's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) had facilitated the new governor's entry into the building. It also reported that journalists were attacked during the clashes.

On its official Facebook page, the FJP published photos of men throwing rocks, one of whom brandished a gun. Page administrators alleged that the picture showed anti-Morsi "thugs" attacking the new governor.

Similar clashes have been reported in the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, while protests were also staged by opposition parties in the Beheira and Beni Suef governorates, both of which are now run by Brotherhood governors. 

The remaining 17 gubernatorial appointments were given to former army and police officials, which had been the norm before the Brotherhood came to power. Two other governorships were given to allies of the Brotherhood.

The most controversial appointment, however, is that of new Luxor governor, Adel El-Khayat, a member of Egypt's Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya. His appointment has been widely condemned due to the Islamist group’s role in the murder of at least 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians in the infamous 1997 Luxor massacre.

Despite calls for greater inclusion in the decision-making process, Morsi – who hails from the Brotherhood – is gradually infusing his administration with members of the group. 

Instead of conceding to the opposition by forming a national unity government, Morsi's ministerial reshuffle last month saw the number of Brotherhood and FJP-affiliated ministers rise to 11 out of 35.

Opposition to the recent appointments reflects escalating anti-Brotherhood sentiment ahead of mass protests planned for 30 June by activists calling for snap presidential elections. 

Anti-Morsi activists, who have been collecting signatures in support of the president's ouster, claim to have garnered vast support on the street.

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