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Friday Street Battles in Cairo Leave Dozens Injured after Islamist Protest

Published on: April 21, 2013

Clashes broke out between Islamist protesters and unknown opponents near Cairo’s High Court on Friday, leaving dozens injured.

Thousands of Islamist protesters were holding a rally before the High Court in downtown Cairo to demand the “purge of Egypt’s judiciary” when confrontations erupted.

Mohamed Sultan, the head of the Egyptian Ambulance Organisation (affiliated to the health ministry), stated that the injury toll reached at least 95 while no deaths have been reported so far.

During the melee, an Ahram Online reporter saw angry Islamist protesters catching an opponent and badly beating him in Ramses Street near the High Court after cornering him against a wall.

Several online videos showed other violent assaults by Islamists on young men. Accounts on social networks claim that Islamists caught by their opponents received the same treatment.

Meanwhile, one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s buses parked in the nearby Abdel-Moneim Riyadh was torched.

It is unclear how the clashes started.

Through its official website, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party accused members of ‘Black Bloc,’ a term used to describe masked men wearing black, of inciting the violence.

The Brotherhood said attackers used live ammunition, teargas and birdshot against Islamist protesters.

A video shot by Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news portal indeed showed some of the Islamists’ opponents using firearms.

And while the Islamists were mainly throwing stones, Ahram Online captured footage of two men on their side using firearms as well.

Live television footage also showed Islamists’ rivals firing teargas canisters, around an hour before the police intervened to separate both sides.

Several Central Security Forces (CSF) vehicles were greeted by Islamist protesters upon their arrival before the High Court.

Demonstrators soon called on their fellow colleagues to retreat from the site of the clashes to allow the police to target the “assaulters.” Some complied while others insisted on confronting their opponents near the Egyptian Museum.

Other Islamist protesters were blaming policemen for showing up late, asking them to come down hard on the “assailants” attacking their “peaceful” protest.

The podium of the Islamist protest announced the end of the demonstration by dusk, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic-Language news website.

Clashes kept re-erupting for hours at night in Ramses Street and the nearby Abdel-Moneim Street as police sought to clear the area.

The interior ministry, after hours of clashes, called on all political forces taking part in the clashes “not to resort to violence and avoid bloodshed and possible deaths.”

“The ministry is doing its best to avoid an escalation of the matter… in light of the ongoing tub-thumping which contravenes the traditions of the Egyptian society,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its official Facebook page.

Thousands of Islamist protesters gathered earlier on Friday to demand the purging of state institutions, recovery of state funds and holding to account those responsible for killing protesters in the 2011 January revolution.

The protest, which was peaceful before the Islamists’ unknown rivals appeared, had been called for by the Muslim Brotherhood and joined by other Islamist forces such as Al-Watan Party, the Salafist Front Al-Asala Party, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail’s Al-Raya Party, Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya’s Building and Development Party, the Reform Party, and the People’s Party.

Islamists believe Egypt’s judiciary is hindering the country’s transition to democracy. They were also provoked by the release of several Hosni Mubarak-era officials of late.

(Al Ahram)

Yisrael Beytenu, All rights reserved