News / Middle East

Egyptian Authorities Arrest Cleric, Brotherhood Spokesman

Trucks and APC's of Egyptian riot police are parked outside the Egyptian Museum near the main access to Egypt's landmark Tahrir square on August 20, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.
Trucks and APC's of Egyptian riot police are parked outside the Egyptian Museum near the main access to Egypt's landmark Tahrir square on August 20, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.
VOA News
Egyptian authorities have arrested a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman and a fiery preacher with ties to the group, as Egypt's interim government continues to pressure the party of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Mourad Ali, a spokesman for the Brotherhood's political arm was taken into custody Wednesday at the Cairo airport, while cleric Safwat Hegazy was arrested near the Libyan border.  Officials said both were trying to flee the country.

The arrests come a day after authorities detained Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohamed Badie.  A court ordered him held for 15 days while prosecutors investigate allegations that he incited the torture and killing of protesters in June.

Meanwhile, a court is hearing a request for the release of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who has been held for more than two years after a popular uprising drove him from power.

Also Wednesday, the United Nations political affairs chief is in Cairo for talks aimed at ending Egypt's political crisis.

Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman is on a three-day mission described by a spokesman as a "push to restore peace and forge reconciliation."

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi says there may continue to be problems in the coming weeks and months in Egypt, but that he does not see the situation becoming a civil war.

In an interview with ABC News broadcast late Tuesday, he said the political transition "will take some time" and that the country is moving in the right direction toward normalcy.

He also defended the conduct of security forces who carried out deadly raids last week at two protest camps in Cairo.  Beblawi said the government had warned the protesters to disband, and officers used only tear gas until they were fired upon by the protesters.

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