Egypt: Brotherhood feels wrath of state; leaders arrested

Egypt: Brotherhood feels wrath of state; leaders arrested

 CAIRO: The battle between the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood wages on. This time, 10 senior members of the opposition Islamic group were arrested on Saturday, the group told Bikya Masr in an official statement. The arrests highlight the ongoing struggle between the Brotherhood and the government’s security forces.

The officials were arrested in the northern Nile Delta governorate of Kafr el-Sheikh on Saturday where they were holding a meeting, the Brotherhood said. Mahmoud Ezzat, a leading member, confirmed the arrests, adding that he had no details on the reasons for their detention.

“The Constitution, which prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, once again has been ignored with more unjustified arrests of 10 members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kafr el-Sheikh. The trend, which has been in full swing, has continued when police and security forces conducted arrests without charge under the Emergency Law,” the statement read.

Leading Brotherhood lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud said that the arrests are a sign that “things are not going to get better and the government believes they can fight against our popularity.”

He added that there is no basis for the detentions and that “the government will soon learn that the arresting of Brotherhood leaders and figures only gives more power and more popularity to their efforts.”

The ministry of interior declined to comment on the arrests, saying they have no further details than already published. It is not uncommon for opposition figures, including the Brotherhood, to face arbitrary arrests by the government, who attempts to curtail their popularity nationwide.

Prominent Brotherhood leader and reformist, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, spent nearly five months in jail after being arrested last summer. His jailing left many in the country questioning the government’s tactics in combating what the government perceives as a “threat to their power,” as one analyst said, asking that they not be named.

The Brotherhood, which holds a fifth of the seats in Parliament, is banned as an organization but its members are allowed to compete in elections as independents.

Since their Parliamentary success, the government has been cracking down on the banned group, but only recently have senior members been targeted in such raids that result in 15-day detentions.

Aboul Fotouh’s arrest and subsequent detention sparked much ire among activists, including secularists, who believe the crackdown against Brotherhood members is “inappropriate.” George Ishaq, a leading Kefaya (Enough) Movement activist, told Bikya Masr at a downtown solidarity demonstration for the embattled MB leader last summer that the “regime wants to take down anyone who opposes it and this will not happen. We will stand strong in the face of their arrogance.”

The warning is worrying many in Egypt, who feel the arrests are doing more harm than good. But, what is certain is that the Brotherhood continues to push on, preparing itself for a January vote for a new Supreme Guide.

“We will not be stopped by the government to have a democratic election, something they do not do,” said current Supreme Guide Mahdy Akef.

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