Egyptian authorities have arrested a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the latest crackdown on the outlawed group.
Mohamed Ali Bishr was arrested at his home in the Nile Delta on Thursday on charges of calling for mass protests on November 28, state media said.
Bishr, a veteran politician who previously served as minister of state for local development, was one of the few Muslim Brotherhood leaders to escape jail after last year’s overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.
With much of the leadership in jail, Bishr had played a key role in keeping the Brotherhood’s activities alive underground, and was also involved in a pressure group that had pushed for Morsi’s reinstatement and was banned last month.
The group, the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy and Reject the Coup, condemned Bishr’s arrest, which came a day after 25 protesters were detained in the business district of Cairo.
“We reject the continuation of rabid attacks against components of the coalition and its members … and against the sons and daughters of the student protest movement,” the group said on its Facebook page.
The Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Brotherhood, condemned the arrest and said Bishr had served seven years in jail from 1999-2002 and from 2006-2010.
Egypt has waged a sweeping crackdown on the Brotherhood since the military ouster of Morsi in July 2013, with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pledging to end the Islamist group’s influence during his presidency.
The Brotherhood has since been labelled a “terror organisation” by Egyptian authorities, and tens of thousands of its members have been detained in a clampdown on the groups’s activities.
On Thursday, prosecutors asked for the death sentence for Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders facing trial on espionage charges, Egypt’s state news agency said.
Emad el-Sharawy, prosecutor, said that Morsi and his aides leaked state security documents to foreign intelligence agencies, namely Iran, while in office for one year.
El-Sharawy said the defendants, who include Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and 34 others, cooperated with groups such as Gaza’s Hamas to destabilise Egypt.
Once among Egypt’s best-organised and most successful political movements, the Brotherhood won the first parliamentary and presidential elections after the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. Al Jazeera