Eight men were arrested near the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam on Sunday night by Muslim Brotherhood members alongside the police.
The arrests came hours after the prosecutor general highlighted a law that allows citizens to arrest those who vandalise public and private property, block roads, and prevent public officials from carrying out their duties, among other crimes.
One of those arrested was Ahmed Samir, an Al-Dostour Party member and the sole eye-witness to the death of political activist Gaber “Jika” Salah. Jika was killed during clashes which erupted in the vicinity of Tahrir Square during the first anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes in November.
“Samir was watching a game with five of his friends in Moqattam,” said Ahmed Abdel Rahman, another Al-Dostour Party member. “The police and Muslim Brotherhood members both arrested the six men.”
Abdel Rahman stated the Muslim Brotherhood members used knives and sticks in attacking the men before arresting them. He said they were arrested seven streets away from the Brotherhood headquarters.
Two 6 April Movement (Ahmed Maher front) members were among those arrested. Alaa Sharara and Shahin Mohtadi were referred to investigation at Zeinhom Court on Monday, alongside the other detainees.
Ahmed Magdy, an Al-Dostour Party lawyer, said Samir, alongside the other detainees, is accused of attacking the Brotherhood headquarters and attempting to torch it. Magdy denied any truth to those accusations. “It’s all fabricated,” he said.
“This was definitely a pre-planned set-up for Sharara and Mohtadi,” Abdel Rahman said, adding that Samir was caught up in the process. He added that two of the eight men arrested were passers-by trying to get home. “The Brotherhood members were acting upon the citizen arrest laws highlighted by the prosecutor general.”
The Al-Dostour Party’s governing board released a statement following a meeting on Sunday, condemning the prosecutor general’s statement urging citizen arrests. The party said the statement supports some Islamist movements’ attempts to push their members to the streets under the pretext of maintaining security.
Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya announced three weeks ago the establishment of “popular squads” responsible for peacefully resolving road blockage and combating outlaws. The Islamist group and its political wing, the Building and Development Party (BDP), welcomed the prosecutor general’s statement.
“This is a step we completely value,” said Khaled Al-Sherif, BDP’s media advisor. “We are at an exceptional situation which needs the society’s full interaction.”
Al-Sherif denied that Al-Jamaa’s squads would be a replacement to the police. “We aim at establishing an administration that falls under the auspices of the police.”
The prosecutor general released a statement on Monday denying having granted citizens the ability to arrest outlaws. “The statement only highlighted the presence of article 37 of criminal procedures code, which gives citizens the right to hand over any red-handed criminals to the police,” the statement read, referring to a law issued in 1950.
Nasser Amin, head of the Judiciary Independence Centre, stated that he will internationally prosecute the current regime. In a personal tweet, Amin said: “All armed conflicts in Rwanda, Congo and Sierra Leon began when militias were empowered by the law under the pretext that they were preserving the regime.”
Additional reporting by Ahmed Aboul Enein