(Photo: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Protests in Egypt against the central government have reached a high as the headquarters of President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo was stormed and 16 people were killed in the unrest.
"This is a historic moment. The Brotherhood ruined the country, so stealing from them is justified," one man identified as Mohammed said, according to AFP news agency.
The building was set on fire on Sunday in an attack that left eight people dead, BBC News reported. Another eight lost their lives in clashes in other locations, in a weekend where millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest against poor economic conditions and lack of social justice, and called for Morsi's resignation.
Morsi was elected as Egypt's president in June 2012, succeeding the ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, and many in the nation had hoped for a new beginning. His direct political ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, however, have been a cause of concern for many, especially Egypt's Coptic Christians, who often face hostilities in the largely Islamic nation.
In June, a leading member of Egypt's National Salvation Front talked about the double standard that exists when it comes to punishing perpetrators. While Copts face harsh punishments when accused of "insulting Islam," there has been a lack of action against those who have targeted Christians and their churches.
Amid the protests, the ministers of tourism, environment, communication and legal affairs have reportedly resigned "in solidarity with the people's demand to overthrow the regime." Morsi so far has made no indication that he has plans to step down.
A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood said that the political movement is considering actions to defend itself, and called for tighter security of its buildings.
"It's very dangerous for one entity in society to take up violence as a means of change because it may entice others to do so. The Muslim Brotherhood is a disciplined organization," Gehad El-Haddad told Reuters.
Morsi's supporters have also staged demonstrations in his defense across Cairo, which led to a number of clashes on Sunday.
Those protesting against the government said that they do not plan to stop until the president concedes power and steps down.
"Mubarak took only 18 days although he had behind him the security, intelligence and a large sector of Egyptians," said one demonstrator, Amr Tawfeeq. "[Morsi] won't take long. We want him out and we are ready to pay the price."