Egypt orders arrests of leading anti-Brotherhood activists
Egyptian members of the Muslim brotherhoods group try to extinguish fire on one of their comrades who he was hit by a molotov cocktail thrown by protesters during clashes in the street that leads to the headquarters of the organization in Cairo on Friday. (Photo: AFP / STR)
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The office of Egypt's prosecutor-general ordered Monday evening the arrest of five activists accused by the Muslim Brotherhood of involvement in attacks on Friday against the Islamist group's members near its national headquarters in Cairo's Moqattam district.
The wanted are opposition activists: renowned blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah; Popular Current member Ahmed Doma; National Salvation Front member Hazem Abdel-Azim; Constitution Party member Ahmed El-Ghoneimi; and activist Karim El-Shaer.
The prosecutor-general also banned all five outspoken Brotherhood critics from leaving the country.
Prosecution moves immediately
Earlier on Monday, Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud filed a complaint with the prosecutor-general against 169 individuals – including party heads, politicians and "thugs" – whom he accused of inciting violence.
The prosecution listened on Monday to the testimony of a number of injured protesters from the Brotherhood who accused several opposition political figures of instigating the attacks.
Also on Monday, South Cairo's prosecution-general summoned Mohamed Abul-Ghar, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, along with other political figures, to hear charges that they had instigated attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters.
South Cairo prosecutors also summoned other political activists, including Free Egyptians party member Mahmoud El-Alaily, former Revolution Youth Coalition member Khaled Telima.
The Friday, 23 March clashes between protesters and Brotherhood members – outside the group's main headquarters in Cairo and in several other cities – left at least 200 injured.
Opposition activists had called for protests in response to an earlier attack on 16 March by Muslim Brotherhood members on anti-Brotherhood protesters and graffiti artists outside the Islamist group's headquarters.
Police on Monday night said that they have failed so far to arrest three Brotherhood workers accused in the attack on the anti-Brotherhood protesters.
The accused respond
On his Facebook page, El-Shaer said he rejected both the subpoena and the Morsi-appointed prosecutor-general who issued it, since the decision amounted to a "continuation of the Mubarak regime," in reference to Egypt's ousted president.
Abdel-Fattah, by contrast, expressed his intention to appear before the prosecution on Tuesday, even though he viewed the decision as "evidence of the corruption of the case and the prosecutor-general's bias towards the Muslim Brotherhood."
He justified his decision to answer the summons by citing his desire to avoid subjecting his wife and son to police harassment.
"I'm not afraid of the prisons of the oppressive state," the activist wrote on Facebook. "I refuse to go from one who is unjustly accused to a fugitive."
Journalist challenges system
The prosecution also summoned prominent activist and journalist Nawara Negm for questioning.
Negm, a daughter of renowned revolutionary poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, told the Headlines news program on the satellite ONTV on Monday evening that though she has not yet received any summons, she would not submit to any questioning.
"I am not scared of jail. I am from a family used to jail. My father and my mother did plenty of time in their time."
Negm said that she "feels sorry for President Morsi who is burning himself in a rapid manner like Sadat and Mubarak did in their last days," adding that "what Morsi is doing is a joke."
Accused by the SCAF, accused by the Brotherhood
Alaa Abdel-Fattah was previously detained for several months in 2011 during Egypt's brief period of military rule by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) after being accused of attacking army personnel and stealing military property during the October 2011 Maspero clashes between protesters and the army.
Abdel-Fattah was released after months in detention.
Doma, too, had been previously arrested under the SCAF, in 2012, following a clash with military personnel in front of the Egyptian cabinet headquarters near Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Accused of incitement and vandalism, he was conditionally released last April pending further investigation.
On 16 March, Doma was beaten along with other activists by Brotherhood supporters while painting anti-Brotherhood graffiti outside the group's headquarters in Moqattam.
The leftist activist opted not to file a legal complaint against the Brotherhood due to his lack of trust in the justice system vowing to fight the group politically, instead.
Negm was also the subject of more than one complaint of inciting violence and disrespecting the SCAF after the January 25 revolution.
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