Such stories have become increasingly common as tensions between Egypt’s Muslims and Copts mount, but in the latest case, mosque officials corroborated much of the account and even filed a police report. Demonstrators, some of whom were Muslim, say they were taken from the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in suburban Cairo to a nearby mosque on Friday and tortured for hours by hard-line militia members.
“There is no longer anything to hold them back. The floodgates are open.”
– Shaul Gabbay, University of Denver professor on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood
“They accompanied me to one of the mosques in the area and I discovered the mosque was being used to imprison demonstrators and torture them,” Amir Ayad, a Coptic who has been a vocal protester against the regime, told MidEast Christian News from a hospital bed.
Ayad said he was beaten for hours with sticks before being left for dead on a roadside. Amir’s brother, Ezzat Ayad, said he received an anonymous phone call at 3 a.m. Saturday, with the caller saying his brother had been found near death and had been taken to the ambulance.
“He underwent radiation treatment that proved that he suffered a fracture in the bottom of his skull, a fracture in his left arm, a bleeding in the right eye, and birdshot injuries,” Ezzat Ayad said.
Officials at the Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque said radical militias stormed the building, in the Cairo suburb of Moqattam, after Friday prayers.
“[We] deeply regret what has happened and apologize to the people of Moqattam,” mosque officials said in a statement, adding that “they had lost control over the mosque at the time.”
The statement also “denounced and condemned the violence and involving mosques in political conflicts.”
The latest crackdown is further confirmation that the Muslim Brotherhood’s most hard-line elements are consolidating control in Egypt, according to Shaul Gabbay, a professor of international studies at the University of Denver.
“It will only get worse,” said Gabbay. “This has been a longstanding conflict, but now that the Muslim Brotherhood is in power, it is moving forward to implement its ideology – which is that Christians are supposed to become Muslims.
“There is no longer anything to hold them back,” he continued. “The floodgates are open.”
Gabbay said the violent militias that allegedly tortured Ayad work hand-in-hand with police and may, in fact, be beyond the control of increasingly unpopular President Mohammed Morsi. While he may benefit from roving bands that attack demonstrators, they also undermine his claim of being a legitimate leader.