Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said on Thursday that it would defend its headquarters against protests if necessary, raising the possibility of a confrontation at a demonstration planned in Cairo on Friday.
Anti-Brotherhood protesters clashed with riot police wielding tear gas outside the building earlier this week, the latest burst of street unrest in a country still struggling to install law and order since its 2011 revolution.
In a tense press conference in which journalists confronted senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders over accusations that private security guards had attacked members of the press, the group said it would use all means to protect its property.
“Anyone who attacks my house, who pollutes the street in front of my property, in front of my gate, then I have the right to stop them,” said the Group’s Secretary General, Mahmoud Hussein.
While acknowledging the attacks on journalists, Hussein refused to apologize until an investigation was completed and called for those who attacked the group’s headquarters to also be held to account.
“We promise to investigate, and if any violations are found by the guards of the building then we will hold them to account. And we request at the same time that the judicial authorities investigate and hold accountable the party that carried out the attack,” Hussein said.
The Brotherhood also announced that it had legalized its status as an NGO in an effort to put to an end to arguments that the group was considered illegal under Egyptian law.
A court is set to rule later this week on the group’s legality and the effort to register as an NGO appears to be an attempt to pre-empt a negative ruling.
“We wish to reaffirm that the legal status of the Muslim Brotherhood, as we have confirmed previously, under law - that no legal rulings have been issued to this day declaring the Muslim Brotherhood illegal,” said Hussein.
Egypt’s Social Affairs Minister has reportedly said that the Brotherhood now had legal status as an NGO under Article 51 of the Constitution.