CAIRO -- Egyptian security forces on Wednesday arrested one of the last senior Muslim Brotherhood figures still at large, the latest sign of authorities’ determination to continue cracking down on the Islamist organization.
Essam El-Erian, a top official in the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, was picked up in a raid early Wednesday in a house in an upscale Cairo neighborhood.
In a statement on its official Facebook page, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said the arrest was part of its effort to “pursue wanted leaders and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
El-Erian had been a fugitive since the July coup that toppled Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, but had evaded authorities until Wednesday. Prosecutors placed him under provisional detention for 30 days while he is investigated for inciting violence and killings.
Thousands of Brotherhood supporters, including Morsi, face similar charges in the aftermath of the July 3 coup. Morsi is due to go on trial Monday in Cairo.
The former president’s backers accuse the state of bringing trumped-up charges against them in order to silence demands for his reinstatement. Pro-Morsi demonstrations continue to flare despite authorities’ efforts to quell them.
On Wednesday, students at Al-Azhar University, the country’s top Islamic institute, stormed the university’s administrative building, breaking windows and trapping administrators in their offices before riot police intervened. The campus, whose student body includes a large number of Brotherhood supporters, has been a hotbed of protests in recent weeks.
Hassieb is a special correspondent.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun