Egyptian police arrested 13 members of the Muslim Brotherhood including Mahmoud Ezzat, the groups deputy leader -- in overnight raids in six provinces.
The raids targeted homes in the Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Assiut, Sharqiyya and Gharbiyya governorates. In addition to Ezzat, police also arrested two members of the Brotherhood's executive council, Essam el-Erian and Abdul-Rahman Al-Barr; three members of the Brotherhood's administrative office in Alexandria; and several writers and professors with ties to the group.
All of the detainees are accused of engaging in banned political activity.
In a statement on its English-language Web site Ikhwanweb, the Brotherhood describes the arrests as part of an ongoing crackdown on the group ahead of municipal elections in April
Abdul-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, the Muslim Brotherhood's lawyer, has ascertained that the arrests, in fact, are provocative and unjustified and the number of detainees are likely to rise where the group's lawyers are still gathering the names of detainees held at SSI headquarters in all of Egypt's governorates.
An unnamed Egyptian security official cinfirmed Abdul-Monem Abdul Maqsouds suspicionconfirmed that there will be more arrests: He told El-Shorouk that this is the "first of a series of campaign of arres of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders."
The arrests aren't surprising: The regime rounds up Muslim Brothers every few months, including two dozen in a raid last October. But I'm surprised they decided to arrest Ezzat, a conservative who until now has been allowed to operate freely. (He gave Al-Jazeera a lengthy interview in December, and the regime didn't react.
Ezzat hasn't done anything in the last few weeks to provoke the regime, so his arrest is probably a message to the group's leader -- Mohammed Badie, the newly-elected chairman of the Brotherhood.