Is Morsi a president for all Egyptians, or just Brothers? (+ video)
President Mohamed Morsi's reliance on Muslim Brotherhood activists to put down protests around the palace has further alienated some Egyptians from his rule.
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Sabry described those doing the interrogations as Freedom and Justice Party members, and says he recognized two of them and gave their names. He says one of them talked about a phone call with Mohamed El Beltagi, a prominent member of the party. In a separate interview, Omar also described overhearing one of the men who held him on the phone with Mr. Beltagi.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Continued Turmoil in Egypt
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Beltagi could not be reached for comment.
Video footage confirms what the protesters describe, and shows handcuffed and bloodied protesters being interrogated. All the 49 who were held outside the presidential palace were handed over to police and prosecutors in the late afternoon of Dec. 6, joining dozens of others who had been handed over to police by the president's supporters. By Saturday, 137 had been released for lack of evidence, while four remained in custody.
According to the HRW report, Morsi's prerecorded speech, in which he mentions confessions, was broadcast as the protesters were still being questioned by prosecutors, and lawyers present said none of them confessed in those interviews. In his speech, the president said "Sadly, some of those arrested have work and communication ties to political forces. And some of those using weapons were hired to do so, in exchange for a payment of money. This is what the investigations revealed, based on their confessions."
HRW urged the prosecutor to examine possible links between the detentions and the authorities. The report also noted a statement made by the Brotherhood's lawyer, on Dec. 6, saying "83 thugs were arrested with money, knives, and Molotov cocktails.… They admitted causing riots and killing and injuring hundreds of [the president'] supporters…. We have clear-cut and documented evidence that proves major politicians and media figures incited the violence."
The Information Minister, a Brotherhood member, also repeated the accusations in the state daily Al Ahram, citing "documents and evidence confiscated from dozens of thugs in front of the presidential palace."
Haddad says that the president's supporters were catching armed thugs and handing them over to police, amid a vicious attack on the Brotherhood members and supporters that he says killed ten of them. "I saw people being taken from the front lines. They were attackers. They had weapons," he says. Brotherhood members often intervened to stop beatings of those caught, he says.
He defends the Brotherhood's decision to send its followers to the palace, a call observers predicted would end in violence.
"At the end of the day this was a carefully designed coup by a few thugs that were hired by previous members of the Mubarak regime," says Haddad, adding that prominent members of the opposition are connected to the attacks as well. He could not provide evidence to back up his accusations.
"The Muslim Brotherhood came down as a human shield to prevent a bloodier confrontation between the presidential guard and the rest of the supporters," says Haddard. He says the Brotherhood followers had to protect the palace, because the police, loyal to Mubarak's regime and hostile to the Brotherhood, would not do so. "The objective of the Muslim Brotherhood was to protect the sovereignty of the state against an organized coup led by former Mubarak cronies."
Protesters who were detained and beaten say the episode makes them feel Morsi is Brotherhood president, not a leader of all Egyptians. When Morsi won the presidential elections, Omar told his friends that they should give him a chance to prove himself for a year. If he proved to be a good president, he would support him, he says.
But from the moment the president addressed his supporters in front of his palace after his recent decree, instead of giving an address to all Egyptians on television, Omar began to feel the president was not his president, he says. After what happened to him last week, he's more determined than ever to oppose Morsi. "I will not surrender, I will not give up," he says.