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Egyptian government pursues Brotherhood figures - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie sits at a police station after security forces arrested him in Cairo in this handout picture dated August 20, 2013. REUTERS/The Interior Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie sits at a police station after security forces arrested him in Cairo in this handout picture dated August 20, 2013. (REUTERS/The Interior Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Ahmad Aref was arrested on Thursday along with some 75 executive members of the embattled Islamist group, Egypt’s interior ministry has announced.

“Mohamed El-Beltagy, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, was targeted in several provinces, but security forces failed to arrest him,” said sources in Egypt’s judiciary speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that these steps come within the framework of the security services’ efforts to pursue the Brotherhood’s executive leaders and organizational offices, as well as group members who had arrest warrants issued against them.

In related news, Egypt’s prosecutors ordered the detention of the pro-Brotherhood Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy for 30 days pending interrogation on suspicion of inciting violence during the events at the Heliopolis palace.

During the nine-hour interrogation that took place in Tora Prison, Hegazy denied all charges against him, including inciting Brotherhood members and supporters to inflict violence against citizens and members of the Egyptian armed forces. He also denied being a member of the Brotherhood.

Hegazy also claimed that he opposes violence and that he always called on Mursi supporters to protest peacefully. The Islamist preacher also denied all knowledge of Brotherhood’s plans to engage in violence, stressing that he would not have participated in the Rabaa Al-Adawiya protests had he known they would turn violent.

He revealed that he was aware of the arrest warrant issued against him and that, after the Egyptian security forces cleared protests at Rabaa Al-Adawiya, he fled in a bid to reorganize his thoughts so that he could “act in the service of Egypt.”

The prominent Egyptian preacher has appeared in several videos posted on the Internet calling upon pro-Mursi citizens to take to the streets to demand the reinstatement of the former president. The videos show him using the word “jihad” on several occasions.

A judicial source said “the prosecution brought ten charges against Hegazy,” including inciting violence, complicity in deaths of some protesters, owning firearms and violating citizens’ freedoms.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s public prosecution service ordered the detention of the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, for 15 days. He is being investigated on suspicion of inciting violence, murder, and torturing citizens in Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square.

When questioned, the 70 year-old Brotherhood chief announced that the deposed Islamist group denounces violence and “enjoins good and forbids evil.”

The spate of arrests comes as a part of the government’s clampdown on the Brotherhood following July’s removal of the Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, by the country’s military.