News / Middle East

Egyptian Authorities Arrest Muslim Brotherhood Leader

FILE - Essam el-Erian, deputy head of the Freedom and Justice Party, speaks during Egypt's Shura Council meeting in Cairo, May 25, 2013.
FILE - Essam el-Erian, deputy head of the Freedom and Justice Party, speaks during Egypt's Shura Council meeting in Cairo, May 25, 2013.
VOA News
Egyptian authorities have arrested a key Muslim Brotherhood leader, continuing a crackdown against the group following the military's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Security forces detained Essam el-Erian, the deputy leader of the Brotherhood's political wing (the Freedom and Justice Party), at his hideout Wednesday in the eastern suburb of New Cairo.

Hours later police took control of the main building of al-Azhar University - the country's top institution for Islamic teachings - after protesting students besieged and attacked the offices of the university's chief administrator.

Students at al-Azhar have been demonstrating for weeks in support of Morsi, whom the army toppled in July after mass protests against his rule.

El-Erian had been in hiding since the July coup and was one of the few top Brotherhood officials who had remained free.

VOA's Al Pessin interviewed him in July 2011 about the Brotherhood’s plans to become a force in Egyptian politics and government after decades as a banned organization.

The spiritual leader said that his party wanted "to achieve 30-to-35 percent of seats [in parliament].  With other electoral allies and coalitions, of course we are working for a majority with others.  And this can give this alliance the ability to nominate not only the prime minister but the whole cabinet.”

El-Erian and others in the Brotherhood’s political wing promoted the idea that it believed in a moderate approach to Islam and politics.  But when it got into power, many Egyptians did not see it that way, and many supported the military coup this past July.

Hundreds of Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi, have been arrested since his ouster and charged with inciting violence.  The deposed leader's supporters have carried out mass protests demanding he be reinstated. 

Some of the demonstrations have turned violent.  More than 1,000 people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in the clashes and crackdown. 

Morsi, in detention at an undisclosed military location, is accused of inciting violence that caused the deaths of other protesters in June.  His trial is set to open November 4.

El-Erian is also a defendant in the Morsi trial.

His arrest came just hours after three judges presiding over the trial of 35 Brotherhood members stepped down after security agencies refused to let the defendants attend the courtroom sessions.

The move - a sharp pushback from within the establishment over the conduct of the trial - means a new set of judges will be assigned and the proceedings will have to start over.

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by: Godwin from: Nigeria
October 30, 2013 9:24 AM
The interim administration is moving in the right direction. If Essam el-Erian has been unable to bring sanity to the Brotherhood over all this time he has been free, then there is no point allowing him to continue to be free, because if he is not with the people and government of Egypt, he is with the terrorist brotherhood - after all we have seen how un-brotherly they have been in unleashing terror in the country when their true color is exposed by the little shaking. Since under his control the brotherhood has remained violent and has terrorized the country, maybe it is safer to cage him, which is also a trial and error approach - after all the Muslim Brotherhood is banned and it's illegal to continue to operate an outlawed outfit in the country.

As for the judges resigning, it is democratic not to work understand circumstances that one disagrees with. If they insist on seeing those on trial face to face while the authorities think otherwise on grounds of insecurity, then let them resign and go in peace. For everyone understands how volatile Egypt is at the moment wherein a sighting of those 35 MB members to be tried can only cause an escalation. While we say the judges have not worked in the best interest of the country, we know too they can be allowed the choice to partake or not. Which is a plus for the interim administration to allow them freedom of choice.

by: Sani Aliyu Hunkuyi(Mr.) from: Nigeria
October 30, 2013 7:43 AM
I commend the three judges presiding over the trial of 35 Brotherhood members for stepping down, saying they felt "uneasy" about the proceedings but giving no specific details. If it were me the specific details would have been the fear of Allah. It is wrong to harass Muslim Brotherhood for no offence except that they said their Lord is Allah and they want Allah's shari'a (Laws) to be the guiding principles of running their government. May Allah bless Mr. Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei for the good example of disassociating himself from the blood thirsty Military dictators of Egypt. A true Muslim believes that the beauty of what Allah keeps for believers in the life after death is better than the Worldly things in this World and therefore one should try to leave a good memory of himself in the minds of people he relates with while in this world.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the military side should both relax their hard stance for the sake of Allah with the hope to get reward from Allah. The recommendation of payment for compensation, the money may come from rich Islamic Countries like Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia should offer to compensate in monetary terms, those who lost their lives and properties and support the Muslims to enshrine Shari'a laws in governing the Muslims of Egypt. Shari'a law is only applicable on Muslims without affecting the right of Non-Muslims. I invite you to Zamfara State of Nigeria to clarify the fact that in truly Shari'a compliant governments the Christians or Jews or other Non-Muslims will not be affected by running a government in compliance to Shari'a /Islamic laws. The Christians Association of Nigeria in Zamfara State will testify to that fact.
In Response

by: hassan Nahaasan from: Nigeria
October 30, 2013 10:34 PM
Sharia law is an oppressive medeival legal system that right thinking muslims hate with their blood not to talk about the peace loving christians who do not want to stay where sharia is mentioned much more practised. Sani may be living outside Nigeria and that explains his ignorance about the sufferings of christians in Zamfara state where church permits are never issued and christians are forced to wear the sharia hijab and people are constantly being harassed by the sharia police. The only people that want sharia are the islamist who do not recognise the right or existence of other religious adherants and the terrorist who likes to bring misery to humans as the only way to control and dominate. The Judges would not have acted the way they did under the mind controlling dictatorial sharia laws.May the Lord increase Assisi and all peace lovers all over the world who hate oppression and terror in the name of religion.

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