The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Egypt: Top MB arrested

It's become almost routine to see Muslim Brothers being arrested in the last few years, especially in the Delta, but the recent arrest of some of the group's most prominent members is rather curious:

State Security Services launched a wide crackdown today at dawn against three Muslim Brotherhood high-ranking figures in Cairo. Among those arrested are Dr. Abdel-Moneim Abu el-Fotouh, Member of the Executive Bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Secretary-General of the Arab Doctors’ Federation, Judge Fathi Lashin, former legal adviser to the Ministry of Justice and Expert on Islamic Financial Transactions and Dr. Jamal Abdul Salam, Head of the Emergency Relief Committee of the Arab Doctors’ Federation and the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate in the 2005 elections.

Aboul Fotouh in particular is one of the MB's most popular figures, respected well beyond their ranks for his intellectual calibre and moderation. Considering all of these people were involved in the fundraising drive and aid effort to Gaza, and the Egyptian government has just reopened the border, one wonders whether there's any connection. Especially at this time when there are so many rumors about Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas, being moved to Egypt in advance of a prisoner exchange deal and ongoing Israel-Hamas as well as Fatah-Hamas negotiations.

Update: I should add that several companies close to those arrested and other prominents MBs have been shut down, dealing a further financial blow to the group. This morning (29 June 2009) newspapers like al-Dustour are accusing the MB of a weak reaction, perhaps channeling some Islamists' belief that they have been too supine in their reaction to the last few years of crackdowns.