CAIRO (AP) â€” Police on Sunday arrested six prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including two leaders and four top businessmen, in separate dawn raids across the country, police and the Islamic opposition group said.
A police official said the six were arrested for activities aimed at “reviving efforts” of the outlawed group and that along with the arrests, authorities confiscated material and publications related to the Brotherhood. The police official spoke on customary condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Abdel Gelil Sharnoubi, editor of the Brotherhood’s website, said Mohammad Ali Bishr, member of the group’s decision-making bureau, was arrested in Menoufia, 60 kilometresÂ north of Cairo. Issam Hashish, Brotherhood leader in Cairo’s twin city of Giza, was arrested there. “The arrests are part of the regime’s general campaign against the Brotherhood,” Sharnoubi said.
The four arrested businessmen run several big companies and significant industrial projects in Egypt.
Two were arrested in Alexandria, 220 kilometres north of Cairo â€” Medhat Haddad and Osama Abdul-Mohsen Sherbi. Abdul-Rahman Saudi was arrested in Cairo while Khalid Ouda, a businessman and professor at Assiut University, was apprehended in southern Egypt, Sharnoubi said.
“This is an unjustifiable stepped-up campaign of arrests by the government, targeting specifically senior members … and owners of big companies and capital,” Sharnoubi said.
President Hosni Mubarak in an interview last week said the group was a danger to the country’s security because of its “religious discourse” and warned that investments would stop if the Brotherhood came to power. But the group rebutted the accusations, saying Mubarak’s claims were aimed at stirring fears among the Egyptian public. Late last month, police arrested three businessmen and sealed off four Islamic printing and publishing houses and book stores affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The one-month-long campaign has resulted in the arrests so far of 190 members of the Muslim Brotherhood group, including its third top leader,” Sharnoubi said.
The Muslim Brotherhood â€” Egypt’s biggest Islamic opposition group, officially outlawed since 1954 â€” won 88 seats in parliament in 2005, after members ran as independents. It renounced violence in the 1970s but is subject to frequent crackdowns.