News / Middle East

Egyptian Prosecutor Orders Arrests of Activists

A man standing in front of Moqattam mosque takes a photo near the Muslim Brotherhood's national headquarters in Cairo's Moqattam district March 22, 2013.A man standing in front of Moqattam mosque takes a photo near the Muslim Brotherhood's national headquarters in Cairo's Moqattam district March 22, 2013.
x
A man standing in front of Moqattam mosque takes a photo near the Muslim Brotherhood's national headquarters in Cairo's Moqattam district March 22, 2013.
A man standing in front of Moqattam mosque takes a photo near the Muslim Brotherhood's national headquarters in Cairo's Moqattam district March 22, 2013.
Reuters
Egypt's prosecutor general on Monday ordered the arrest of five prominent political activists accused of inciting violence against President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, a step the opposition decried as a reversal for democracy.
 
The move seemed certain to deepen mistrust in an already polarized political landscape, further complicating Morsi's efforts to build bridges with his opponents before parliamentary polls the opposition has threatened to boycott.
 
Those ordered arrested included Ahmed Douma and Alaa Abd El-Fattah, a leading blogger who became a symbol of the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Also ordered arrested were Karim al-Shaer, Hazem Abdel Azeem and Ahmed al-Sahafi.
 
The five were banned from travel while a sixth person was summoned for questioning.
 
Abd El-Fattah, who was arrested under Mubarak and the military council that replaced him, said in a statement he would head to the prosecutor general's office on Tuesday. He described the warrant as proof of the “corruption of the case and the prosecutor general's bias in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood”.
 
The prosecutor's office said in a statement that the five had been accused of inciting “aggression against people, the destruction of property and disturbing civil peace” in street battles near the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters on Friday.
 
At least 130 people were hospitalized in the fighting.
 
The arrest warrants follow a threat on Sunday by Morsi to take steps to protect the nation following the clashes. Mursi said ``necessary measures'' would be taken against any politicians found to be involved.
 
Commenting on the news, Pakinam El Sharkawy, an adviser to Morsi, stressed the distinction between ``political work and freedom of expression and opinion and violence, thuggery and calling for them'', state media reported.
 
The two sides traded blame for the latest in a series of violent demonstrations targeting Morsi and the Brotherhood, the Islamist group that propelled him to power in a June election.
 
"We feel under threat. We feel this [is] a total reversal for democracy and we expect the worst," said Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front, an alliance of non-Islamist parties that came together last year to oppose Morsi.
 
The rift between the Brotherhood and its secular-minded opponents has deepened since Morsi was elected president and spasms of street violence have obstructed his efforts to revive an economy battered by unrest.
 
Morsi's opponents accuse him and the Brotherhood of seeking to dominate the post-Mubarak era. The Brotherhood has in turn accused the opposition of failing to respect democratic rules.
 
The arrest warrants followed a formal legal complaint filed to the prosecutor by the Brotherhood on Monday against 169 people, including leaders of political parties, it accused of inciting or carrying out Friday's violence.
 
Satisfying the Brotherhood Base
 
Morsi's remarks on Sunday were in part seen as a response to anger within the ranks of the Brotherhood, whose offices have been routinely ransacked and torched in recent months.
 
"The greater issue now for them is how to manage the anger of their base and their members. These members are agitating to fight back," said Yasser El-Shimy, an analyst with the International Crisis Group. "The leadership has to show its base that there are other routes to combat the attacks," he said.
 
April 6, a pro-democracy activist movement, echoed criticism against the prosecutor general. He was appointed late last year by Morsi in disputed circumstances and his removal is one of the opposition's demands.
 
"To the prosecutor general - why do arrest warrants only happen when there are clashes at the Brotherhood headquarters?" it wrote on its Facebook page.
 
Mohamed Abolghar, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said: "I am really, very worried about political freedom, media freedom - they are in extreme danger."

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More