Muslim Brotherhood HQ Attacked

July 1, 2013 . By

Much of the violence of Sunday night carried into Monday morning. In the Cairo suburb of Moqattam, the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood was attacked, set ablaze (although the building did not burn down), and looted as protesters sought to express their frustration with President Mohammad Morsi. Crowds initially gathered in front of the headquarters building on Sunday night, and they later began throwing stones and Molotov cocktails into the building. Gunmen inside the building opened fire from the upper stories, sending bursts of birdshot into the crowd along with Molotov cocktails, and it appears that other firearms were also used by the building’s defenders. Larger blasts, said to be from propane cylinders, were reported as well. After the building’s defense collapsed, it was set upon by looters; many valuables of all kinds were carried away, symbols of the Brotherhood were destroyed, and numerous documents were seized. Most of the Brotherhood supporters defending the building escaped the mob, though one was caught, dragged, and severely beaten.

The Health Ministry confirmed a total of eight deaths resulting from the clash at Moqattam. Offices of senior Brotherhood officials, including disqualified presidential candidate Khairat al-Shater, were ransacked. Documents from those offices showed closer coordination between senior Brotherhood members and the presidency than previously acknowledged by either institution, and many recovered documents remain unanalyzed. Notably, there was no attempt by police to restrain the crowd during the attack, the Interior Ministry having earlier claimed to lack the manpower to protect all political party buildings. The headquarters of the Wasat Party, an Islamist party founded by former Muslim Brotherhood members and allied with the Freedom and Justice Party, was also attacked with firebombs later in the day.

Following the previous day’s clash, Osama al-Nawsani was arrested for allegedly firing on the protestors in Assiut. Al-Nawsani is a member of the hard-line Islamist group Gama’a al-Islamiyya, the entity responsible for conducting a campaign of  terrorism in Egypt throughout the 1990s (including the 1997 Luxor massacre) before officially foreswearing violence in 2003. Also in Assiut, thousands of anti-Morsi protestors returned to the headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party, the site of the deadly protests the day before, and ultimately set it ablaze. In Minya, Muslim youth banged on the doors and windows of Christian homes, chanting sectarian slogans and throwing rocks. Six soldiers and a guard were deployed to protect the local church.

At 4pm, the Egyptian military issued a statement on the current situation. “It is necessary that the people receive a reply to their movement,” an English translation reads. The armed forces stated an unwillingness to “step out of the role defined for them by the basic ideals of democracy based on the will of the people.” Importantly, the military gave “everyone 48 hours as a last chance to shoulder the burden of the historic moment.” In response to the military’s statement, the National Salvation Front (NSF) publicly endorsed an “ouster of the regime of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.” The statement went on to note that “the Egyptian people will protect its revolution until peaceful transition of power is fulfilled.”

Late Monday evening, U.S. President Barack Obama contacted then-President Morsi about the June 30 protests. The White House states that Obama told Morsi that “the United States is committed to the democratic process in Egypt and does not support any single party or group”. He went on to state that “democracy is about more than elections; it is also about ensuring that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government, including the many Egyptians demonstrating throughout the country.”

In a show of no-confidence in the Morsi government, the following officials resigned throughout the day: military and presidential advisor Sami Anan, three governors (Tarek Khadr of Damietta, Hassan Rifai of Ismailiya, and Yehia Mokhaymer of Sohag), five ministers (Minister of State for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Hatem Begato, Tourism Minister Hesham Zazou, Communication and IT minister Atef Helmi, Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy Abdel-Aal, and Water Minister Abdel Qawi Khalifa), and nine members of the Shura Council (Magdy al-Maasarawy, Gamil Halim, Sameh Fawzy, Nadia Henry, Kamal Soliman, Suzy Adel, Nabil Azmyand, Haile Selassie Mikhael, and Farid al-Bayyad).

Additionally, at least 17 more incidents of sexual harassment or assault were reported to have occurred on Monday.