Supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi physically beat his opponents last week, “holding them for hours with their hands bound on the pavement outside the presidential palace while pressuring them to confess that they had accepted money to use violence in protests against him.”
“It was torment for us,” said Yehia Negm (pictured), 42, a former diplomat with a badly bruised face and rope marks on his wrists. He said he was among a group of about 50, including four minors, who were detained on the pavement overnight. In front of cameras, “they accused me of being a traitor, or conspiring against the country, of being paid to carry weapons and set fires.” he said in an interview. “I thought I would die.”
The abuses have become clear through an accumulation of video footage and victim testimonies that are now inflicting a serious blow to the credibility of Mr. Morsi and his Islamist allies as they push forward to this weekend’s referendum on an Islamist-backed draft constitution. To critics of Islamists, the episode on Wednesday recalled the tactics of the ousted president, Hosni Mubarak, who often saw a conspiracy of “hidden hands” behind his domestic opposition and deployed plainclothes thugs acting outside the law to punish those who challenged him.
Officials of the Muslim Brotherhood said the group opposed such vigilante justice and did not organize the detentions. And in at least one case one victim said a senior figure of the group rescued her from captivity. But the officials also acknowledged that some of their senior leadership was on the scene at the time. They said some of their members took part in the detentions, along with more hard-line Islamists.