Egypt’s Azhar, Mursi supporters clash near Muslim Brotherhood HQ

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Clashes took place Friday between supporters of Sunni Islam’s top religious authority al-Azhar, and those of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Mursi, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported.

The clashes, near the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, left tens of people injured.

The spat between the Brotherhood and the center of Islamic learning began when the principle of Egypt’s Azhar University, Osama al-Abed, was dismissed Wednesday amid protests against alleged food poisoning that struck more than 500 students.

Some in the opposition accuse the Brotherhood of having concocted the mass-poisoning scandal in an attempt to control the institution.

Following Abed’s dismissal, there were calls by the Brotherhood to sack Azhar’s Grand Mufti Ahmed al-Tayeb.

In an interview with Al Arabiya on Thursday, Azhar cleric Sheikh Ahmed Karima accused the Brotherhood of exploiting the food-poisoning incident.

“The escalation of the situation has nothing to do with the poisoning of students’ stomachs, but the poisoning of students’ brains,” Karima said.

Since Abed has been dismissed, so should Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, as he is also responsible of Azhar’s affairs, Karima added.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawky Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam also defended Azhar and Tayeb.

Any attack on Azhar would “undermine Egypt’s security,” Ahram Online quoted Allam as saying Thursday.

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