By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: Members of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the campaign supporting former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said they were interrogated and threatened by security forces in a bid to prevent them from participating in planned nationwide protests on Jan. 25.
“A large number of officials in the Brotherhood’s administrative offices in many governorates were summoned by security forces and were threatened with detainment if they participate in the Jan. 25 protests,” Mohamed El-Beltagy, a prominent Brotherhood member, told Daily News Egypt.
“Threatening us is completely unacceptable and a useless attempt by security forces,” El-Beltagy said. “We will continue to advocate the people’s demands until they are implemented by the regime.”
The Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei called on the government to respond to citizens’ demands for change instead of referring them to security forces that attempt to solve all problems through violence, intimidation, detainment, torture and murder, in a statement issued on Sunday.
The campaign supporting ElBaradei said that some of its members were forcibly taken to state security headquarters in different governorates around Cairo, in a statement issued by the campaign on Sunday.
The campaign’s members were threatened and intimidated by security forces against participating in protests on Jan. 25, they said.
“Security forces verbally attacked our members and interrogated them for hours to obtain any details regarding the protests scheduled for Jan. 25,” Mustafa Al-Naggar, general coordinator of the campaign supporting ElBaradei, told Daily News Egypt.
The statement added that activists’ parents were told they would be detained for a long time if their children continue to participate in political activities against the government, describing it as an “extremely bizarre” action on behalf of security forces.
“The campaign condemns these irresponsible actions on behalf of security forces and announces its refusal succumb to these threats,” read the statement by the campaign supporting ElBaradei.
“These attempts [to scare people away] only gave our members a push forward and made them realize the importance of their participation in protests that have clearly frightened the regime,” said Al-Naggar.
Designated officials at the Ministry of Interior were not available for comment by press time.
ElBaradei condemned the threats on Twitter, stating that “threats of violence against participants in peaceful [demonstrations] reveal the ugly face of a regime terrified of its own people.”
ElBaradei announced his support for the protests set for Jan. 25, even though he would not be taking part in them.
“I don’t want to steal their thunder,” ElBaradei explained during an interview with Der Spiegel last week, adding that he hoped the protests “will not degenerate.”
The Brotherhood announced on Saturday that its members will participate in the protest organized by the National Association for Change and the “Popular Parliament” in front of the Supreme Court on Jan. 25, adding that the group will not be present for the street demonstrations that are currently planned to take place.
Gameat El-Dowal Street, Dawaran Shubra, Dawran Al-Matariya and Cairo University were identified as the assembly points for the demonstrations, in addition to other protests in Alexandria, Daqahliya, Ismailia, Assiut, Sohag, Suez and Port Said.
Alternative protests are set to be held in front of Egyptian embassies in Tunisia, Beirut, the United Kingdom, the US, and Canada.
Protesters’ demands include the annulment of the Emergency Law, the resignation of Interior Minister Habib El-Adly, the dissolution of the current parliament, and increasing the monthly minimum wage to LE 1,200.
The April 6 Youth Movement issued a statement on Sunday that warned the Ministry of Interior against using force against the protesters.
The April 6 Youth Movement also warned against the security forces’ attempts to plant thugs among the protesters to spark violence, thereby giving security forces justification to attack the protesters and to accuse them of vandalizing public property and of disturbing the peace.
The April 6 Youth Movement added that any assault against protesters at the hands of security forces will have “severe, irreversible consequences.”
“Abide by the law and permit us to express our opinions and demands in a peaceful, civil manner,” read the statement by the campaign supporting ElBaradei, which was entitled “Any assault against one Egyptian citizen is an assault against the whole nation.”
Protesters are prepared to use plastic shields to face security violence, and a number of participants are being trained so that they may be used effectively.
“The Emergency Law doesn’t allow the gathering of more than five people in one place and the Ministry of Interior uses that as an excuse to prevent us from holding peaceful protests,” Al-Naggar stated.
“The amount of violence we will face from security forces will depend on the number of protesters [that participate],” Al-Naggar added. “The more protesters there are, the less violence there will be.”
The front to defend Egypt’s protesters issued a statement on Sunday announcing its preparations in presenting legal aid to the Jan. 25 protesters.
The statement added that the front will document all violations that take place on behalf of security forces during the protests.