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Egyptian opposition protest suppressed by president's supporters

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 14 October 2012 - ANHRI strongly condemns the violence that took place in Tahrir Square on 12 October 2012 at the demonstrations assembled to hold President Mohammed Morsi accountable for his first 100 days in office. The demonstrations were called for by forces opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi. They eventually led to clashes between the demonstrators and youth loyal to the Brotherhood.

The demonstration, which was planned one month prior to the event, was aimed at holding the President accountable for his campaign promises. Another protest, organised by the Muslim Brotherhood, took place on the same day in response to a disputed ruling issued by the Giza Criminal Court. The ruling had acquitted all those accused of killing protesters on 2 and 3 February 2011, during an incident known as the "Battle of the Camels". Members of the Muslim Brotherhood showed up in Tahrir Square, in remembrance of this incident, demanding the resignation of the Attorney General and the re-trial of those accused.

Once the Friday prayers came to an end, the anti-Morsi protesters began to chant political slogans opposing the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their intensified chants prompted the Brotherhood's youth to show their support for Morsi by targeting the other protesters and driving small groups of them out of the Square. They attempted to prevent more anti-Morsi groups from entering the Square by throwing stones at the entrances. Eventually, the situation got out of hand and evolved into a street war between the two parties, resulting in hundreds of casualties from both sides.

ANHRI strongly disapproves of the attack on the anti-Morsi protesters by the Brotherhood's younger members. It was a violent act on their part aimed at disrupting a demonstration that started out peacefully.

ANHRI called on the Muslim Brotherhood leaders to apologise for the behavior of the youth who were in the square and to hold them accountable for their actions. Those responsible should be brought to trial and there should be no justification for acts that violate the opposition's right to free expression and hearken back to the old ways of the National Democratic Party.

"The Brotherhood's demand for the dismissal of the Attorney General is a just requirement," stated ANHRI, "however, the use of force on their behalf to get their demand met, and the use of that demand as an excuse to crack down on opposition demonstrations scheduled a month earlier is unacceptable. The Muslim Brotherhood bears the greatest responsibility for what occurred, not just for disrupting the demonstration and instigating violence, but also for failing to assume political responsibility as an elected authority that manages the affairs of the country today."

The organisation also said, "The Muslim Brotherhood should be well aware of its powerful position and its executive and legislative authorities. It must bear the political responsibility affiliated with such power and should be honest and open with the Egyptian people, who expressed confidence in them during the parliamentary and presidential elections."

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