Parliamentary candidate accused of stealing alms

CAIRO (AP) — A member of an outlawed opposition group who is running for a seat in Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections was detained Thursday on accusations of stealing religious alms to supplement his campaign spending.
Essam Mokhtar, a member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, was later released after appearing before the prosecutor general Thursday evening for interrogation, as around a 1,000 Brotherhood members staged protests outside.

“Police told him that some people said he is using alms money in election campaigning, which is baseless,” Mokhtar’s spokesman, Mohammed Al Kassass, told the Associated Press by telephone.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorised to speak to the press, said the arrest came after the imam of Al Fateh Mosque, where Mokhtar was distributing the alms, filed a complaint accusing Mokhtar of embezzlement.

Kassass said 10 plainclothes policemen arrested Mokhtar following noon prayers while he was discussing the distribution of alms inside a mosque.

Protesters chanted slogans calling for Mokhtar’s release Thursday night. “Patience, patience, oh Essam. Victory will be for Islam!” Mokhtar is a first-time candidate for a parliamentary seat in the Nasr City constituency, an upper middle-class district of Cairo.

Kassass accused the ruling National Democratic Party of filing the complaints against Mokhtar to clear the way in front of their candidate.

“It’s obvious that the NDP fears the popularity of the Brotherhood candidate,” he said, adding that local authorities this week removed Mokhtar’s campaign banners but left the NDP candidate’s banners untouched.

Following hours of interrogations, the prosecutor-general cleared and released Mokhtar after he provided documents proving no alms money was missing.

The Muslim Brotherhood is making its most assertive push yet in this month’s elections, which begin November 9 and are held in three stages.

Anti-gov’t blogger detained

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian police have detained a blogger for his anti-Islamic and anti-government writings and confiscated his books and copies of his articles, his family and other bloggers said Thursday.

Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman, a 21-year-old law student at Al Azhar University, was arrested on October 26. His whereabouts are not known.

“A group of seven police officers knocked at the door at 3:00am and asked about Abdolkarim,” his mother, who identified herself as Yousseria, told the Associated Press by telephone from Alexandria. She said the police searched the house, confiscated Seliman books and copies of his articles, which he posts to his blog.

“Since then, I didn’t see him,” she said, adding that his brother learned from police that Seliman was taken to a detention cell on Wednesday.

Police declined to comment when asked about Seliman’s detention.

“He is stubborn, he has ideas that contradict the true religion and he posts that on the Internet, serving no one but himself,” his mother said when asked about his writings.

Seliman belongs to a pious Muslim family _ his parents were performing umra, or a minor Islamic pilgrimage, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, just days before his arrest. He is also a student of Al-Azhar, the world’s highest seat of learning for Sunni Muslims.

Another blogger, Malik Moustafa, closely followed Seliman’s detention and accused followers of the fundamentalist Islamic Salafi movement in Alexandria of being behind the arrest. Moustafa said the arrest followed articles in which Seliman accused the Salafis of inciting the latest sectarian tensions in his neighborhood of Mouharm Bay.

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