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Egypt Brotherhood Asserts Right to Self Defense Before Protest

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said it has the right to protect its offices, a day before planned protests at the organization’s Cairo headquarters.

“We have every right to defend our properties,” Brotherhood Secretary General Mahmoud Hussein said today in a televised news conference. He accused the opposition of scrawling graffiti on the outside walls of its headquarters and insulting President Mohamed Mursi during a March 16 rally that turned into a brawl and led to riot police firing tear gas to disperse crowds.

The opposition and journalists say the Brotherhood, which fielded Mursi for office, attacked protesters and journalists during the demonstration. Tensions were evident at Hussein’s news conference, which was interrupted when journalists chanted slogans against Mursi and shouted down officials trying to air a video they say shows their guards had been provoked.

Mursi is facing mounting criticism over his handling of the stumbling economy and a security void that has led to a rise in vigilantism to combat surging crime. The Brotherhood has become the focus of ire from secularist and youth activists, who say Mohammed Badie, the Islamist organization’s top official known as the Supreme Guide, is running the country behind the scenes.

During the news conference, the audience broke out into a rhyming chant, saying the supreme guide is pulling Mursi’s strings.

Tomorrow’s protests is the latest in what has become a weekly show of protests and counter-protests that are crippling the push to transition after the 2011 uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak. It was called for by 21 political parties and groups under the slogan, “Down with the rule of the Supreme Guide.”

Egyptian prosecutors said authorities are searching for three individuals working in the Brotherhood’s headquarters, who are suspected of playing a role in the attack on demonstrators and journalists, state-run Ahram Gate reported today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Salma El Wardany in Cairo at selwardany@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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