The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

State Security cracks down on the Brothers

So as to look evenhanded, fair, and balanced (an important pillar of the “New Thought�), security services cracked down on the Muslim Brothers today, after leftist dissidents had their share of state’s wrath during the last couple of weeks.

The Brothers announced on their website, “Egyptian state security police arrested nine prominent members... during a routine meeting at the Center for Research and Development in Cairo. The Center, which is headed by Dr. Mohamed Morsy, a prominent MB leader and currently in jail as well, is properly licensed by Egyptian authorities and has been in business for several years.�

Nadia Abou El-Magd of AP also wrote a good wire report about it:

Egyptian authorities Sunday arrested nine leading members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, bringing to more than 650 the number of the group jailed since police began rounding them up three months ago.

The nine men, senior Brotherhood figures from five provinces, were arrested in Cairo during a meeting at a research center, the group's web site, lawyer and police said.

"They are from the political section of Brotherhood," the group's attorney, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, told the Associated Press.

Among those arrested was Mohammed Abdel Ghani, who was sentenced to three years in prison by a military court in the 1990s.

Police began a fresh crack down on the group in March, when the group started protesting the extension of Egypt's controversial emergency laws and in support of judges who disclosed election fraud in the most recent parliamentary elections.

Egyptian authorities can hold detainees for up to six months without trial under the much criticized emergency laws in place since in 1981 after Islamic militants assassinated President Anwar Sadat. The law was renewed for two more years on April at the request of President Hosni Mubarak.

The Kifaya, or Enough, reform movement says 60 of its activists were arrested in April and May under the same law.

On Sunday, the State Security prosecutor ordered the release of three pro-democracy detainees, and renewed the detention of three others _ blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah and two women, Nada el-Qassas, and Rasha Azab, who each were given 15 more days in prison. Some have been in jail for a month after being picked up during demonstrations, where police beat protesters. The group said 45 members are still in jail.

The detentions represent a shift in the policing of more than a year of protests by secularists. Security held detainees for no longer than a few hours other than in last July when a handful of activists remained in custody for a few days.

Since late April, police have arrested hundreds of activists involved in peaceful protests against disciplinary hearings for two reformist judges.

Judges Mahmoud Mekki and Hesham el-Bastawisy, members of the Court of Cassation _ the country's highest appellate court _ were put before the disciplinary board for speaking to the media about alleged rigging of the last parliamentary vote.

On May 18, the judicial disciplinary panel reprimanded Hesham El-Bastiwisy but cleared Mahmoud Mekki. El-Bastawisy, suffered a heart attack, hours before the verdict.