Sources in the interior ministry, who asked to remain anonymous, did not reveal the names of those arrested but told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the names will be revealed as soon as the interrogation by Egyptian prosecution begins.”
Unconfirmed media reports yesterday said preacher and Brotherhood leader Safwat Higazi was arrested as he attempted to escape in disguise in a private car from Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square. Another Salafist preacher, Mohamed Hassan, was arrested while trying to set up a new protest with dozens of pro-Mursi protesters in the Mostafa Mahmoud Square in Giza.
Reports also said Essam El-Erian, vice-president of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, was arrested in Rabaa Al-Adawiya.
There were conflicting reports, however, about the arrest of Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagi. Some media sources said he was arrested, while security forces denied this and said he was still in the Rabaa Al-Adawiya area.
Beltagi was last seen on Al-Jazeera TV when he announced the death of his daughter during the clearance of Rabaa Al-Adawiya, and called on Mursi supporters to continue their protests in other areas.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses said they saw the Brotherhood’s general guide, Mohammed Badie, making his way out of Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square in a private car following the raid by security forces.
The operation to clear the two pro-Mursi protests started at 7:00 am local time on Wednesday, after the failure of international mediation to end the political impasse that began six weeks ago following the ouster of Mohamed Mursi by the army in July, which followed mass anti-Mursi demonstrations on June 30.
The Egyptian government issued a statement yesterday calling on the political leadership of the Brotherhood to stop what it said was incitement that damaged national security. The government said it held the leadership responsible for any bloodshed caused by such incitement.
In another development, security measures were strengthened yesterday around the Turra Prison after Brotherhood supporters tried to storm it. They were thought to be trying to free some of their leaders believed to be held at the prison, including Khairat El-Shater, first deputy of the general guide, and leader of the FJP Sa’ad El-Katatni, as well as Rashad El-Bayoumi, another leading member of the Brotherhood’s leadership.