Egypt to charge Muslim Brotherhood leaders
Egypt was set on Saturday to charge 16 leading members of the banned
Muslim Brotherhood after their arrest in the latest clampdown on the
Islamists, the country's main opposition movement.
The men, including senior figures Essam al-Aryan and Mahmoud Hussein,
were arrested in a police swoop at the home of a fellow Brotherhood
member in Cairo late on Friday. "This is yet another hard blow for us,"
the organisation's number two, Mohammed Habib, told AFP.
Hundreds of members of the Brotherhood have been rounded up in recent
weeks, many at summer camps the state says are used for training to "destabilise
The 16 are expected to be charged with belonging to a banned
organisation, possession of illegal documents, and holding a meeting to
plan illicit activities. The Brothers said they were arrested "at a
The Muslim Brotherhood, which describes itself as a moderate Islamic
organisation that wants to bring Islamic law to Egypt, has been outlawed
The group has more than a fifth of the seats in Egypt's parliament,
but its representatives sit as independents because of its illegal
Considered a moderate, Aryan is part of the Brotherhood's political
bureau, while Hussein sits on the Orientation Council, the group's other
major leadership organ.
Aryan, a doctor who often serves as spokesman for the Muslim
Brotherhood, has spent many years in prison since the 1970s, and was
last released in December 2006, said another Brotherhood spokesman,
Ibrahim al-Houdaiby. He said on the Brothers' website that Aryan's
arrest "is a clear attempt by the regime to crackdown on the moderate
leaders of the Brotherhood who could push the group towards more
"Some observers make distinctions between his discourse and that of
other Brotherhood leaders ... and claim that Aryan presents a moderate
facade for a group which is not that moderate," Houdaiby said. One of
the organisation's new generation of leaders, Aryan was prevented on
Friday from going to Istanbul on a trip sponsored by the doctors' union
which is controlled by the Brotherhood.
The group made a stunning breakthrough in the legislative elections
of November and December 2005.
Running as independents, Muslim Brotherhood members won 88 of 454
seats in the national parliament which is dominated by President Hosni
Mubarak's ruling party. The latest arrests came as 40 other members -
mainly businessmen - are being tried in a military tribunal for
financing a banned organisation and money laundering.
A hearing took place earlier this month on a military base behind
closed doors despite protests by rights groups barred from attending the
politically charged trial, which is set to resume on Sunday.