Protesters demanding President Morsi step down set ablaze the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood
Protesters stormed the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, doused its first floor with gasoline and set it ablaze hours after masses poured into Egypt’s streets demanding President Mohamed Mursi step down.
No casualties were reported in the arson attack on the group that fielded Mursi for office. The building had been the scene of deadly clashes between Mursi supporters and opponents the night before, with at least eight people killed and 45 injured, South Cairo Prosecution official Tamer El-Arabi said. At least four others were killed overnight in protests across the nation, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported.
The violence reflected the magnitude of the rifts dividing the nation a year after Mursi was inaugurated as Egypt’s first democratically elected civilian president. It suggested more turmoil to come in Egypt’s fitful transition from the 2011 uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power.
Hundreds of thousands of Mursi’s opponents took to the streets nationwide on Sunday, marking the end of the Islamist leader’s first year in office with demands that he quit.
The Tamarud, or Rebel movement, which had organized the rallies and claimed to have amassed 22 million signatures against Mursi, warned of a civil disobedience campaign should he not capitulate by 2 July to its demand for early elections. Separately, the National Salvation Front opposition bloc, in its Revolution Statement 1, called on protesters to maintain their peaceful protests until the last of the strongholds of this dictatorial regime falls.
Tens of thousands of Islamists gathered in counter-rallies on Sunday in a show of support for the embattled leader. His critics accuse him of reneging on his promise to be a president for all Egyptians and focusing instead on cementing the Muslim Brotherhood’s power. The Islamists point out that he was freely elected and say any change should be effected through the ballot box.
The aftermath of the protests could go in two ways, said Yasser el-Shimy, a Cairo-based analyst with the international Crisis Group.
There’s a good scenario that could happen, which is for the president to recognize that his rather unilateral approach has created a big political crisis and that he would need to offer some compromises, el-Shimy said. The worst-case scenario, however, is if the big turnout induces the opposition to insist that Mursi must leave immediately.
Such a departure was unlikely, he said, and a lot of this is going to depend on how sustained the momentum can be.
The Brotherhood, on its website, described the arson attack on its headquarters as the work of thugs.
Televised footage showed part of the building’s lower facade and gated entry charred by smoke, and windows shattered. Blooomberg
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