Someone is trapped in El-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque.
The historic downtown mosque in Alexandria was the site of violence on Friday as anti-constitution protestors took to the streets. The Muslim Brotherhood officially stayed away from the flashpoint central mosque to avoid confrontation, but that does not seem to have helped.
During the battles, two narratives have emerged and both centre around Sheikh Ahmed El-Mehalawy, a celebrity preacher in Alexandria who led Friday’s prayer.
One version was relayed by the Freedom and Justice spokesman in Alexandria, Mohamed Soudan who said, “some of the opposition and some of the socialists tried to attack Sheikh El-Mehalawy after he finished his lecture. They tried to attack him, but worshippers defended him.”
The story continues with claims that when nearby members of Gama’a Islamiyaa heard of the attack, they ran to the sheikh’s defence (the sheikh himself is not politically affiliated, but supports the draft constitution).
“The worshippers closed the door and Sheikh El-Mehalway is trapped inside,” said Soudan. “The police are in the middle of Gama’a Islamiyaa and the protestors.”
Anti-constitution protestor Zeyad Salem had a different version of events and he relayed it nervously, saying the mood in Alexandria was extremely intense as the standoff persisted. “El-Mehalawy is not trapped, he is the one trapping three people from the protest inside the mosque.” Salem said that during fighting outside the mosque, three protestors were pulled inside El-Qaed Ibrahim and the door was slammed behind them.
Now, both sides concur, the police are negotiating amidst a standoff that seems to be an actualisation of the feelings simmering across Egypt.