By Ali Al-Bassam
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
CAIRO, Egypt — The Health Ministry reported that at least 4 people were killed, and 350 people were injured in Cairo as supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi clashed near the presidential palace last Tuesday.
It is reported that pro-Morsi demonstrators tried to break up an opposition sit-in. The leaders of the opposition accused the Muslim Brotherhood of creating violence. Fighting continued between the two parties into Thursday morning, as both sides threw stones and Molotov cocktails at each other. Pro-Morsi supporters ransacked tents erected by the opposition in front of the palace last Tuesday, claiming that they found drugs and alcohol within them. Witnesses claim that they saw Morsi supporters throw stones and use clubs to attack anti-Morsi demonstrators. The Interior Ministry claims that thirty-two people were arrested. Protests spread throughout Egypt as the offices of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Ismalia and Suez were torched. Morsi’s opponents were heard chanting “no to dictatorship,” while their rivals responded with “defending Morsi is defending Islam.”
Because of the crisis, three members of the Presidential Advisory Council, Seif Abdel Fattah, Ayman Al-Sayyad, and Amr Al-Leithy, announced their resignation. Dr. Ahmed El-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of the powerful Al-Azhar Mosque, called for Egyptians to engage in dialogue.
Earlier on Wednesday, Vice President Mahmoud Mekky said that the constitutional referendum is still scheduled for December 15, but that the “door for dialogue” remained open, suggesting that it would still be possible to make changes to the document after it is voted in. In a press conference last Wednesday, Mekki urged for consensus, saying that opposition demands must be respected to overcome the crisis.
Opposition leader Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister and Secretary-General of the Arab League said that Morsi must make a formal offer for dialogue if his opponents were to take Mekki’s requests seriously. “We are ready when there is something formal, something expressed in definite terms, we will not ignore it,” said Moussa in a press conference held last Wednesday night with pro-opposition leaders Mohamed El-Baradei and Hamdeen Sabbahi. The three men blamed Morsi for the violence that occurred in front of the presidential palace. “He has lost the moral legitimacy to lead Egypt,” said Sabbahi.
The Muslim Brotherhood, however, believe that the opposition leaders are to blame for the violence. “It’s very sad to see opposition leaders such as El-Baradei, Hamdeen, and Amr Moussa to resort to such levels of talk, said Gehad El-Haddad Senior Advisor to the Freedom and Justice Party, in an interview with Al Jazeera. “Such disrespect to the sanctity of peaceful protesting, within the context of democracy is very alarming.”
For further information, please see:
Al Arabiya — At Least one Killed as Anti-Mursi Protests Flare Outside Cairo’s Presidential Palace — 5 December 2012
Al Jazeera — Several Killed in Egypt Clashes — 5 December 2012
BBC News — Egypt Crisis: Fatal Cairo Clashes Amid Constituion row — 5 December 2012
Daily News Egypt — Egypt Crisis Escalates — 5 December 2012