Why the "MB militias" are not an exaggeration

Allies of Egypt’s Morsi Beat Protesters Outside Palace - NYTimes.com

The NYT covers the extremely disturbing events of Wednesday night:

CAIRO — Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Morsi captured, detained and beat dozens of his political 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, 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 held 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.”

. . .

It is impossible to know how much Mr. Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, knew about the Islamists’ vigilante justice. But human rights advocates say the detentions raised troubling questions about statements made by the president during his nationally televised address on Thursday. In it, Mr. Morsi appears to have cited confessions obtained by his Islamist supporters, the advocates said, when he promised that confessions under interrogation would show that protesters outside his palace acknowledged ties to his political opposition and had taken money to commit violence.

The most galling thing is this quote by MB spokesman Gehad Haddad: 

Gehad el-Haddad, a senior Brotherhood official, defended the group’s decision to call on its members and other Islamist supporters of the president to defend the palace from a potential attack by the protesters. He said Mr. Morsi could not rely on the police force left over from Mr. Mubarak’s government. By keeping the protesters from trying to storm the palace walls, Mr. Haddad contended, the Brotherhood and the president’s supporters had prevented a bloodier conflict with the armed presidential guard. “We will protect the sovereignty of the state at any cost.”

Any cost, really? Unbelievable — especially since the protestors had been there for a while and not stormed the palace walls (not that even of they did it would justify the formation of vigilante militias — which incidentally is forbidden in the new constitution.) And Haddad and other senior MB people appear to have been at the front line.

David Ignatius asked the right question a few days ago:

How did Washington become the best friend of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, even as President Mohamed Morsi was asserting dictatorial powers and his followers were beating up secular liberals in the streets of Cairo? It’s a question many Arabs ask these days, and it deserves an answer.

Update:

There's going to be a press conference with more info on what happened:

Invitation to a Press conference

In their own words

Victims Recount What Really Happened Outside al-Ittihadiya


You are cordially invited to a press conference detailing in the words of victims, their families, and eyewitnesses what really happened on Wednesday 5 December outside al-Ittihadiya presidential palace, after supporters of President Morsi stormed a sit-in set up by protesters of Morsi’s constitutional declaration.

They will present testimonies showing what they were subjected to: they will tell the stories of arrests, beating, torture, and sexual abuse; they will also tell the stories of those who lost their lives.

Footage from the clashes will also be shown.

Where: Press Syndicate, Abdel Khalek Tharwat Street, Down Town, Cairo

When: Wednesday 12 December 2012, 5-7.30 pm

Simultaneous interpretation from Arabic to English will be available.