CAIRO Ñ 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.