Crackdown on Islamists revived after deadly clashes
Hazem Salah Abu Ismail - Courtesy: Interior Ministry
 

Following deadly clashes that broke out early Monday morning between the military and Muslim Brotherhood supporters in front of the Republic Guard headquarters, killing dozens, Islamists are once again the target of sweeping arrests.

News outlets reported today that Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Ahmed Aref and six members of the Salafi Hazemoun campaign were arrested in an apartment in Dar al-Salam on charges of arms possession.

The prosecution also allegedly ordered the arrest of leading Brotherhood figure Gamah Heshmat’s two sons, in addition to 15 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Damanhour. They were reportedly arrested on charges related to clashes in the the capital of Beheira Governorate on Saturday that left 22 injured. 

An arrest warrant was also reportedly issued against 22 Morsi supporters accused of shooting at Kerdasa Police Station.

Additionally, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported that the Abdeen prosecutor’s office seized the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Bab al-Louq after an inspection allegedly uncovered illegal weapons and suspicious unknown liquids in plastic bags.

Seven teachers belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood were also arrested in Damietta on Friday following clashes, MENA reported. The teachers were detained for four days pending investigations after rocks and pieces of wood were allegedly found in their possession. 

Following President Mohamed Morsi’s removal from office last Wednesday, security forces have so far arrested over 300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including its leading figures. While some were quickly released, others still remain in custody on charges ranging from insulting the judiciary to inciting violence and murder. The military also halted the broadcast of five television channels sympathetic to the Brotherhood on the same day as Morsi’s ouster, temporarily detaining some of their staff.

Human Rights Watch released a statement on Monday condemning what they called “arbitrary action against the Brotherhood.”

While some Brotherhood leaders have made incendiary statements and could face prosecution, in general these mass arrests appear to be politically motivated and based solely on membership to the group, HRW warned.

On Friday Al-Azhar issued a statement in reaction to the arrests, demanding the release of all political prisoners and rejecting any exceptional measures after the revolution.

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