Egypt’s military-backed authorities on Tuesday arrested the supreme leader of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood, dealing a serious blow to the Islamist group at a time when it is struggling to keep up its street protests against the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi in the face of a harsh government crackdown.
The Brotherhood’s spiritual guide, Mohammed Badie, was arrested in an apartment at the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City, close to the location of the six-week sit-in protest by supporters of Morsi, who also hails from the Islamist group. The encampment was cleared by security forces last Wednesday, along with another protest site in Giza, in a raid that killed hundreds of people.
Badie’s arrest is the latest stage in an escalating crackdown by authorities on the Brotherhood in which hundreds have also been arrested. The Brotherhood’s near daily protests since Morsi’s ouster have somewhat petered out the last two days, with scattered demonstrations in Cairo and elsewhere in the country attracting hundreds, sometimes just dozens.
Morsi himself has been detained in an undisclosed location since the July 3 coup, prompted by days-long protests by millions of Egyptians demonstrating against the president and his rule. He is facing accusations of conspiring with the militant Palestinian Hamas group to escape from prison during the 2011 uprising and complicity in the killing and torture of protesters outside his Cairo palace in December.