Egypt Brotherhood rejects 'terrorism' charge

Senior Muslim Brotherhood official currently in hiding says coup leaders' hands are 'drowned in blood'.

    Mohammed el-Beltagy is a former lawmaker, and is wanted by authorities on accusations of inciting violence [EPA]
    Mohammed el-Beltagy is a former lawmaker, and is wanted by authorities on accusations of inciting violence [EPA]

    A fugitive leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has denied accusations that his group is committing acts of "terrorism", following the coup that toppled the country's president.

    Mohammed el-Beltagy's address, which aired on Tuesday, comes as the Brotherhood plans new demonstrations to defy a crippling security crackdown that has put most of its senior and mid-level leadership behind bars.

    Among those detained on Monday was 25-year-old US citizen Mohamed Soltan, the son of outspoken Brotherhood figure Salah Soltan, family and security officials said.

    El-Beltagy, a former politician with the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, is wanted himself on accusations of inciting violence and has been hunted by authorities for nearly three weeks.

    In a videotaped message aired by Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, el-Beltagy said that authorities were trying to turn a "political crisis" into a security problem by accusing his group of orchestrating a terrorism campaign.

    Egypt's media, almost uniformly anti-Brotherhood after the closure of Islamist television stations, have described the crackdown as a "war against terrorism".

    "Don't be fooled by these lies and deception that aim to label us with terrorism, violence, [and] killing ... at a time when the hands of the coup regime are drowned in blood," el-Beltagy said.

    Arrests and raids

    El-Beltagy went into hiding earlier this month after authorities violently broke up protest encampments held by supporters of President Mohammed Morsi, overthrown July 3 by the military after days of mass protests against him.

    Hundreds died in the crackdown, including el-Beltagy's daughter.

    In retaliation, Morsi supporters attacked police stations, government buildings and churches. Hundreds of Brotherhood members, the group's top leaders and Morsi supporters were arrested, many accused of orchestrating and taking part in violence.

    Airport authorities also said on Tuesday that well-known Egyptian cleric Yousef al-Qaradawi, based in Qatar, would be arrested upon entry to the country.

    Qaradawi is a Brotherhood ally and has spoken out vehemently against Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, the military chief who led the coup.

    The current bout of violence is the worst in Egypt's two and a half years of turbulent transition. More than 1,000 people, mostly Morsi supporters, were killed in the raids and other violence since mid-August. Violence has waned in the past few days.

    An official in the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that 106 security personnel have been killed since August 14 and that more than 900 have been wounded in violence, including soldiers and policemen.

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

    Meanwhile, a stolen ambulance laden with explosives exploded when army troops opened fire at it before it hit a police station in the town of Sheikh Zuweyid near border with Gaza, an intelligence official said.

    The remains of the three attackers' bodies were found in the wreckage, he said.

    The official spoke anonymously in line with regulations.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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