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Pro-Morsi Demonstrators at Media Production City | Rights Groups Issue Statements on Torture

In anticipation of today’s marches, the Interior Ministry increased security at Tahrir Square, the Ittihadeya presidential palace, and Simor Bolivar Square (near the U.S. Embassy). In Minya, there was a heightened security presence near “vital facilities” after a pamphlet was distributed that threated to target “security directorates, public facilities, churches, and policemen” if the sit-ins planned for that day were cleared.

The interim government ordered security forces to block access to the sit-ins within 48 hours as an alternative to dispersing them by force. However, after Ramadan prayers on Friday night, pro-Morsi protesters grew the Raba’a al-Adaweya sit-in by marching to it from multiple venues. Demonstrators also began an attempt to create a third pro-Morsi camp near Cairo’s international airport.

Violence erupted when about 600 Morsi supporters attempted to storm Media Production City, a suburban Cairo compound that houses facilities for a range of private media networks. Armored vehicles fired tear gas canisters at the protesters, which were often picked-up and thrown back toward police. The protesters also burnt tires and fired bird shot at security forces in anger over what they felt was biased media coverage of the July 3 overthrow of former President Morsi. At least 31 people were arrested, and two policemen were wounded by birdshot. The Ministry of Health stated that 34 people were injured throughout the country, with at least 25 injured at the Media Production City clashses. A further eight were injured in Fayoum, and one was injured in Cairo’s Ain Shams district.

Amnesty International stated that evidence indicates that pro-Morsi supporters at Raba’a al-Adaweya and Nahda Square tortured suspected supporters of the interim government. Human Rights Watch stated that Egypt’s interim government should postpone any plans to disperse the pro-Morsi sit-ins by force. The organization stated that the government must ensure the right of its citizens to peacefully assemble and should seek alternatives to violence.