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December 14, 2006
Egypt Rounds Up Muslim Brotherhood

Speaking of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian government has decided that the Islamist group has overstepped itself once again and has arrested scores of its leaders. One of the detainees is a top lieutenant to MB leader Muhammed Akef:

One of the top leaders of Egypt's opposition Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has been detained.

Police also rounded up about 10 other prominent members and dozens of students in dawn raids.

Khairat al-Shatir is one of two deputies to Brotherhood leader Muhammad Akef, and was taken from his home in north-eastern Cairo, the capital.

The group is officially banned, but its supporters make up parliament's largest opposition group and it is tolerated.

This reminds me of the joke about mixed feelings, which involved seeing one's mother-in-law going over a cliff in one's new Cadillac. Having Cairo crack down on an opposition political group is not good news, except when it happens to the political wing of terrorist groups and sympathizers.

The problem in Egypt is that the Brotherhood represents so many Egyptians. Hosni Mubarak's long, dictatorial reign has nurtured the radical reaction, predictably, and moderates and democratic activists have been put at a double disadvantage. The mass arrests will probably enrage Brotherhood supporters and cause even more unrest, creating a situation that could produce even more terrorism.

Egypt needs to nurture the creation of a moderate political center. Thus far, they're doing a poor job of it. If they combine the new offensive against the Brotherhood with liberalization of their political processes and clean elections, they could turn the effort into a net positive for Egyptians. Otherwise, this will result in more of the same dynamic we have witnessed in Egypt for decades.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 14, 2006 5:42 AM

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