Sun 23 Nov 2008
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian police detained 17 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's strongest opposition group, on Saturday on suspicion of holding an illegal meeting, security sources said.
They said the Brotherhood members were arrested in Fayyoum, south of Cairo. Some were detained while leaving a mosque after evening Muslim prayers, while others were taken into custody from their homes, the sources said.
The men were being held on accusations of belonging to a banned group and holding a gathering without a permit, charges authorities frequently levy against Brotherhood members. The Islamist group advocates turning Egypt into an Islamic state through the ballot box.
A Muslim Brotherhood official told Reuters he was unaware of any fresh detentions.
The government calls the Brotherhood a banned organisation although the group operates openly and fields independent candidates in parliamentary elections. It won a fifth of seats in 2005 parliamentary polls.
Political analysts say the government wants to stop the Brotherhood from mounting a serious political challenge to President Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981, and police often detain members for long periods without formal charges.