A sit-in organised by intellectuals in Alexandria calling for the resignation of Minister of Culture Alaa Abdel Aziz was attacked by unknown assailants Monday night, leading to its abandonment.
The attack left two of the protesters with serious injuries and led to the temporary suspension of the sit-in, said Iman Al-Serafy, director of the Alexandria Theatre Company and a protester with the sit-in.
Protesters were preparing for the start of their daily live performance when a group of “three to four people” broke into the sit-in and started attacking the stage and the electronic equipment used during the shows, Al-Serafy said.
“They were testing the waters,” Al-Serafy said. “Because although they disappeared right after the sudden attack, around 20 thugs reappeared 15 minutes later and started attacking the entire sit-in.” He added that the perpetrators were armed with knives, swords and sticks.
Al-Serafy claimed the perpetrators targeted the electronic equipment to force an end to the sit-in. He added that the two injured protesters were also targeted for the role they had played in organising the sit-in and its daily performances.
Ahmed Abul Nasr, an Alexandrian director who was chosen as the sit-in’s official spokesperson and was in charge of managing the daily performances, was hit on the head with a stick, Al-Serafy said. He suffered from a cracked skull and a brain hemorrhage, necessitating an eight-hour long surgery. Abul Nasr is currently hospitalised in in Al-Salama hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
The other seriously injured protester was Osama Gaber, who was managing the sit-in’s stage, Al-Serafy said. Gaber received similar injuries to those of Abul Nasr, although milder in nature.
Other protesters received minor injuries.
Al-Serafy said most protesters had left the sit-in, some in fear of further attacks, others to check on those injured. The sit-in initially comprised of around 100 protesters, but for now has been disbanded.
A report was filed to the police regarding the incident. Al-Serafy said they reached out to several security officials in Alexandria to intervene, but none were responsive.
Maha Effat, a member of the Revolutionary Artists Coalition, accused the Muslim Brotherhood of hiring the perpetrators to attack the sit-in and scare away protesters.
“In the coming days, I expect further similar attacks to take place,” Effat said. She added that the Brotherhood fears the looming 30 June protests organised by the opposition. “But their attacks will only further provoke the people and push them to join the protests.”
Al-Serafy said the sit-in will be moved to the streets as part of a popular movement in anticipation of the 30 June protests. “The right place for the people now is the streets; that’s where we should all rally,” he said.
The intellectuals’ protest originally started over 20 days ago outside the Ministry of Culture in Cairo calling for the resignation of Abdel Aziz. Upon taking power, Abdel Aziz reshuffled several officials within the ministry, a move which prompted opposition from a number of artists and intellectuals. The Alexandria sit-in started almost 10 days ago.