Egypt: Brotherhood students attempt to storm Al-Azhar
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egypt’s security forces dispersed a demonstration by students affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood who attempted to storm the Al-Azhar institute in southern Cairo on Wednesday.
The police also evacuated Tahrir Square following violent clashes with pro-Brotherhood protesters.
At least two people were killed and 40 others injured when the police dispersed protesters who were commemorating the civil unrest and clashes with the security forces in 2011 which left dozens of protesters dead, medical sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat.
Protesters were marking the second anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud Street protests against the ruling military coalition. The 2011 clashes between protesters and security forces lasted six days and left 47 dead and at least 3,000 injured.
In a statement released on its official Facebook page, the Egyptian Interior Ministry revealed that around one thousand Brotherhood-affiliated students marched on Al-Azhar institute on Wednesday “in an attempt to storm it and blocked the Salah Salem road and flow of traffic movement.”
According to the statement, security forces fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators and restore calm.
During the clashes the police arrested “24 rioters, including a “Turkish national.” The Turkish Foreign Ministry has denied Egyptian media reports claiming that Ankara is behind this week’s clashes.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued an official statement, saying: “Some media outlets in Egypt have mentioned Turkey as one of the instigators of the November 19 clashes. We are saddened by these reports,
which are completely baseless. We are confident that the brotherly people of Egypt will not heed these reports. Turkey’s only wish is the peace and well-being of Egypt.”
Since the July 3 ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, students affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood have played a key role in organizing anti-government rallies across Egyptian universities.
Last week, 12 students belonging to the Brotherhood were given a 17-year sentence and fined EGP 65,000 on charges of thuggery, storming Al-Azhar, and inciting riots.
In another development, Cairo’s public prosecutor is investigating 30 people arrested on charges of possessing firearms in Tahrir Square.
Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, has condemned the recent acts of violence committed by protesters commemorating the anniversary of the 2011 clashes.
Mansour called on Egyptians to refrain from expressing themselves through violent means.
The interim president also stressed the importance of showing responsibility and preserving state institutions at this critical stage in Egyptian history.
Written by Mohamed Abdu Hassanein. This article was originally published in Asharq Al-Awsat.