Egypt cracks down on opposition after anti-U.S. protests

Monday, June 30, 2003

CAIRO Egypt has launched a new offensive against the Muslim Brotherhood after major demonstrations late last week.

Islamic sources said the latest government offensive targeted the Brotherhood leadership. They said 11 senior Brotherhood members were arrested in Al Daqahlia and accused of fomenting anti-government unrest.

On Friday, more than 100,000 people demonstrated against Israel and the United States in one of the largest protests organized by the Islamic opposition. The demonstrators called for a boycott of British, Israeli and U.S. products, Middle East Newsline reported.

The operation came in response to a warning issued by the Brotherhood leadership to the government against maintaining the state of emergency. In an unprecedented call, the Brotherhood said it would oppose continued detentions without charge and the use of secret military trials.

In the latest raid, Egyptian security agents also seized documents and computer disks from the Brotherhood meeting. The sources said authorities have detected increased Brotherhood activities in cities and villages of the Al Daqahlia region.

Egypt has long banned the Brotherhood. But authorities allowed front groups to run for parliament in 2000 and several activists were elected.

The sources said it was the fifth Egyptian operation that targeted the Brotherhood leadership in 2003. Egyptian authorities have targeted senior members in Cairo, Giza and Alexandria.

"The latest campaign is no different than the others, in that it reflects the government's insistence on preventing the Brotherhood from practicing its political activities," Abdul Menem Abdul Maqsoud, who represents the Brotherhood, said.

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