Egyptian authorities detain Islamists, close down paper
|Wednesday, March 8,2006 00:00|
Egyptian police detained four more members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday and a senior member of the Islamic group said the authorities had closed down a weekly newspaper which publishes its views.
Deputy leader Mohamed Habib said the detentions were part of a crackdown designed to stop demands for political reform and restore the status quo which existed before last year’s period of relatively open political activity.
Since the crackdown began on Friday, the police have picked up 26 members of the organisation, including a member of its 13-member Guidance Office, which acts as executive committee.
On Tuesday the Supreme Press Council withdrew the licence of the weekly Afaq Arabia (Arab Horizons), which was licensed to the small Liberal Party but which gave much space to writers from the Brotherhood, Habib said.
"All of this is in the context of stopping demands for political reform and going back to before 2005," he added.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest opposition group in the country, with 88 of the 454 seats in parliament after elections in November and December last year.
But the government refuses to let the movement form a legal political party and membership of the movement is against the law, enabling the police to detain members at will.
The Brotherhood’s website, ikhwanonline.org, linked the crackdown to a visit to Egypt by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month.
"She dictated her conditions to the regime to persecute the Brothers and especially its media outlets, including Afaq Arabia," the website said.