Violence erupts in Alexandria and Fayoum

A sit-in in Alexandria, conducted in protest of the Culture Minister Alaa Abdel Aziz, was attacked by unknown assailants. Abdel Aziz was considered controversial both for his recent firing of several leading figures in Egypt’s cultural scene and for his views on the role of arts and culture in society. The peaceful demonstration, which began about ten days ago, suffered two assaults in quick succession. Initially, three or four men destroyed equipment used in the daily artistic performances organized by the sit-in. These attackers were followed by a group of about twenty men, armed with sticks, knives, and swords, who attacked both the artists themselves and others at the demonstration. Two protesters were admitted to the hospital with wounds sustained in the violence, and others received minor injuries. The assailants were not positively identified, but Maha Effat, of the Revolutionary Artists Coalition, blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, saying it was a preemptive assault in advance of the protests planned for June 30.

Reports of violence also emerged from the city of Fayoum, eighty miles southwest of Cairo. Activists with the Tamarod campaign were soliciting signatures for a petition to recall President Morsi and hold early presidential elections when members of the Muslim Brotherhood reportedly attacked them. Five people, including a police sergeant, were injured before security forces could separate the groups. Some of the Tamarod activists went to the local police station to register a complaint shortly afterwards. A previous episode of violence had erupted in Fayoum the week before that resulted in the postponement of a conference headlined by prominent Brotherhood member Mohamed al-Beltagy.

Finally, Egyptian police arrested eight men in connection with the deadly attack on Shia Muslims in Giza on June 23. The prosecutor’s office indicated a fifth death from the violence.