Egypt's Brotherhood vows to defend HQ against protesters
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said it would defend its headquarters against protesters if necessary, raising the possibility of a confrontation at a demonstration planned in Cairo on Friday.
Anti-Brotherhood protesters clashed with riot police firing tear gas outside the building earlier this week, the latest burst of street unrest in a country still struggling to restore law and order since its 2011 uprising.
"We will protect our offices and stress that we will not harm anyone and will not initiate aggression, but we will not allow anyone to assault us," Brotherhood secretary-general Mahmoud Hussein told a televised news conference on Thursday.
"We confirm that protecting public and private property is the responsibility of the police in the first place, even if it is our right to defend ourselves and our headquarters and property, which we will not abandon," he said.
Hardcore secular and liberal opposition activists plan Friday's protest outside the headquarters of the Brotherhood, of which President Mohamed Mursi is a leading member.
A lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood has filed a legal complaint against 14 parties and public figures who called the demonstration, state-run news site Al-Ahram Online said.
Recent unrest in the capital and in other large cities like Port Said is undermining the beleaguered economy. Egyptians are being hit with higher bills for food while fuel shortages have paralyzed transport in parts of the North African country.
Although protests have dwindled since the end of last year when thousands took to the streets after Mursi gave himself sweeping powers, Egypt is still deeply split between Islamists, including the Brotherhood, and a range of opposition groups.
(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba, Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Alistair Lyon)
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