Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood yesterday condemned the arrest of the movement's spiritual guide Mohamed Badie. He was taken from a hideout in Cairo's Nasr City district not far from the site of the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in, dispersed at great cost of life a week ago.
After his capture Mr Badie (70), who had appeared only once at the sit-in, was shown on television looking weary and dazed. His son Ammar (38) was killed last Friday during clashes at Ramses Square in central Cairo.
Mr Badie is being held for 15 days pending charges of inciting violence against churches and implication in the murder of eight demonstrators outside the movement’s Cairo headquarters in June.
Khaled Hanafi, a member of the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice party, said the movement would not be deterred from its protest campaign by Mr Badie’s arrest. “He is of huge value to us and we are in pain. But the Brotherhood operates as a coalition on all levels of society and this arrest will not affect our operations and our peaceful right to protest.”
However, demonstrations against his detention were few and poorly attended.
Although the party announced that Mr Badie's deputy Mahmoud Ezzat, known as the movement's "iron man," would temporarily take over his responsibilities, this was retracted later, leaving both the movement and the party leaderless. Brotherhood political strategist Khairat El-Shater and other senior figures are incarcerated in Tora prison, where ousted president Hosni Mubarak resides.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest criticised the detention of Mr Badie, contending that the move contradicted the interim authority’s pledges to build an “inclusive political process.”
As Egyptians absorbed the news of Mr Badie’s arrest, a civil court decided to consider a case for “breach of national trust” filed against former interim vice president Mohamed ElBaradei who resigned in protest against the crackdown on the Brotherhood encampment at Nasr City and Giza.
Sayed Ateeq, head of the Criminal Law Department of Helwan University, said Dr ElBaradei had not provided to the interim authority alternatives other than forcible dissolution for the sit-ins and that he had failed to take seriously “terrorist crimes” committed by the Brotherhood.
Dr Ateeq complained that Dr ElBaradei, “representative of the National Salvation Front and the revolutionary forces”, did not consult with them before resigning. He is said to be in Austria with his family.
Egypt’s lower courts have been seized with similar cases against political figures since the fall of Mr Mubarak in 2011 but the prosecutions have not been pursued seriously.
As Egyptian president Adly Mansour declared three days of national mourning for the 25 policemen slain by radical fundamentalists in northern Sinai, the technical committee transmitted to him an amended version of the fundamentalist-drafted 2012 constitution due to be debated by a 50-member committee representing the diverse elements in the society. The composition of this body is to be announced today.
Ahead of today's EU foreign minister's meeting on Egypt, foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was prepared to return to Cairo to seek a way out of the crisis. She came here twice last month in a bid to end the standoff between the Brotherhood and interim government.