Elections Monitor: Brotherhood-NDP clashes persist with emboldened fury

“The outlawed incited chaos and terrorism in Alexandria,” reads a front-page headline in state-run daily Al-Gomhorriya. The headline captures the heightening confrontation—and increasingly accusatory tone—between the “outlawed” Muslim Brotherhood and the National Democratic Party ahead of next week’s elections.

According to Al-Gomhorriya, supporters of MB candidate in the Raml district of Alexandria, Sobhi Saleh, attacked security forces who tried to break up a march organized by the candidate. Security forces said the organizers did not secure prior permission. Supporters of the “outlawed” positioned themselves on the roofs of some apartment buildings and threw rocks at police officers, which forced security forces to use spread tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Al-Gomhorriya’s report adds that a group of MB supporters forcibly entered a police station in Mostafa Kamel in Alexandria, where police officers “heroically” defended the premises, pushing protesters out until special forces arrived and apprehended them. The report concludes that the “streets of Alexandria” are grateful to the police officers who “freed them from the thuggish behavior and terrorism and the imposition of a single opinion,” in reference to the behavior of MB candidates and their supporters. The report contrasts this behavior to that of other parties’ candidates and independents who are “quietly exercising their right to campaign,” relying on realistic programs to solve citizens’ problems.

Al-Gomhorriya’s coverage of the Raml events are consistent with a statement issued by the Alexandria security forces, detailed in privately-owned Al-Shorouk. The statement points out that security forces were forced to use tear gas when MB supporters attacked them, and that 8 police officers were injured in the clashes. State-run Al-Ahram adds that MB candidates organized 20 simultaneous night marches in 11 Alexandria districts following the evening prayer. The marches intended to protest a decision to disallow several MB candidates to run as “workers.” Protesters held banners featuring the banned slogan “Islam is the Solution.” Privately-owned Al-Shorouk portrays the clashes as part of a heightened security campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood. The Raml district of Alexandria witnessed “regrettable” events on Friday, the coverage added.

In extended coverage of other Brotherhood-NDP clashes, Al-Ahram reports that 30 police officers were injured during violent clashes with MB supporters in six governorates: Alexandria, Gharbiya, Sharqiya, Al-Daqahliya, Helwan, and Fayoum. Two hundred and fifty MB supporters were arrested, according to state-run Al-Ahram.

In Sarqihya, Al-Ahram reports supporters of Samri Mansour—MB candidate in the district of Abu Kabir—cursed and threw rocks at security forces who tried to prevent them from entering a crowded area as part of a car-march. When MB supporters refused to obey security forces’ instructions not to enter the crowded areas and not to employ religious slogans, security forces were “forced” to deal with them. Thirty-eight supporters were subsequently arrested.

Al-Shorouk’s coverage of the same story, however, presents the confrontation as part of a “big security campaign” to prevent MB candidate Mansour—who is running against minister of social solidarity Ali Al-Moselhi—from touring his district. According to Al-Shorouk, 12 cars belonging to Mansour’s supporters were destroyed and some security forces tried to attack Mansour. An MB source told Al-Shorouk there were several injured supporters among the arrested.  

“We will continue our march and will not back down regardless of the sacrifices,” said a member of the MB executive committee in Sharqiya.

Commenting on MB-NDP competition in Abu Kabir district of Sharqiya, Al-Gomhorriya’s editor, Mohammed Ali Ibrahim, writes that while NDP candidate Ali Al-Moselhi is drawing on Mubarak’s electoral program, MB candidate Samri Mansour and his supporters are adopting a program that relies primarily on demonstrations, the use of microphones, harassment of security forces, thuggish behavior, and deliberately trying to clash with the minister to ruin his campaign rallies.

In Mansoura, Daqahliya, two NDP candidates filed a police report against MB candidate Tarek Qotb, accusing him of destroying a campaign car belonging to NDP candidate Mohammed Hamad and tearing up campaign posters, reports state-run Al-Akhbar.

Further shedding light on NDP-MB confrontation, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mufid Shehab said the Brotherhood's ability to secure 88 seats in the 2005 parliament was a mistake that will not be repeated in this year’s elections, reports privately-owned Al-Dostour. Shehab attributed the MB electoral performance in 2005 to the weakness of other opposition parties as well as the group's ability to abuse public anger against the government and the ruling party. Notably, Shehab pointed out that MB seats will go to the opposition. He also argued that resisting the Brotherhood's goals is a national duty.

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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