Violent clashes broke out in Alexandria on Friday between Islamist and non-Islamist groups near Al-Qa’ed Ibrahim Mosque.
At least 92 demonstrators were arrested from both camps, according to lawyer Hamdy Khalaf. About 74 of those, he said, were non-Islamist demonstrators. Citing the intelligence chief, Khalaf said 51 of the 74 were being investigated at Al-Attareen police station, and the remaining 23 detainees were at Bab Sharqi police station.
“They were arrested by Muslim Brotherhood supporters and Salafis who handed them over to the police,” Khalaf claimed. Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) spokesperson in Alexandria Mohamed Soudan confirmed that Brotherhood members arrested non-Islamist demonstrators.
“They first attacked us,” Soudan said, claiming that one of the non-Islamist demonstrators had a gun. He added that upon catching the “thugs,” they admitted to having been paid by former National Democratic Party members, such as Ahmed Khairy and Mohamed Meseilhy, to incite violence.
18 Islamist demonstrators were also arrested, Khalaf said, adding that they were being investigated at Al-Attareen police station. “They were hiding in a building, armed; the inhabitants of the building caught them and handed them over to the police.”
Soudan stated that the 18 Islamist detainees belonged to separate Islamist groups. He denied that any FJP or Brotherhood members were arrested. “Brotherhood youth follow their leaders’ decisions,” Soudan said. FJP leaders decided to withdraw from the demonstration around 4pm Friday to “prevent bloodshed.” Despite the withdrawal of all Brotherhood and Salafi demonstrators, Soudan claimed, a minority of Islamists decided to remain.
Political activist Ramy Abdel Gelil, who was present during the clashes, claimed that the police began arresting people at night. He stated the police surrounded Al-Qa’ed Ibrahim Mosque, arresting any passersby who arrived in its vicinity.
“A day which witnessed such violence cannot pass without the police arresting somebody to accuse of all the crimes committed,” Abdel Gelil said.
Opposition political parties, including the National Salvation Front (NSF), denounced the acts of violence, adding that none of their members took part in the clashes. NSF spokesperson Hussein Abdel Ghany blamed leaders of the Islamist current for the clashes by charging their supporters against those opposing the constitution, according to state-run Al-Ahram.
Abdel Gelil denied recongnising any opposition party members at Friday’s clashes. He added that protestors from both sides seemed to be provoking confrontation.
The ministry of health reported at least 77 injuries in light of the clashes.
Former disqualified presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abu Ismail called upon his supporters to pray the Friday prayers in Al-Qa’ed Ibrahim Mosque Friday. Reuters reported the Muslim Brotherhood also called upon its members to protest last week’s siege when Sheikh Ahmed Al-Mahallawy and his congregation was trapped in the mosque for over 12 hours after urging those praying to vote ‘yes’ in the referendum last Friday.