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Egypt police release extremists, arrest more Muslim Brotherhood members

[JURIST] More than one hundred Muslim extremists belonging to the group al-Jihad [CNS backgrounder] have been released from Egyptian prisons over the last two weeks, according to Egyptian police on Monday. The prisoners, many of whom had been held for over a decade, were released only after signing statements renouncing the use of violence to promote their cause. Al-Jihad, which was headed by al Qaeda number two leader Ayman al-Zawahiri [BBC profile] until his arrest in 1984, had steadfastly upheld the use of violence for its cause until recently, when jailed leader Sayed Imam Abdul-Aziz el-Sherif called for an end to the group's radical extremism [Kuwait Times report]. AP has more.

Also on Monday, the banned Muslim Brotherhood [party website; FAS backgrounder] said that police had arrested more than 45 of its members in the country's latest crackdown against its strongest opposition movement, bringing the number of Brotherhood members in police custody to nearly 800. The government accuses the organization of trying to create an Islamic theocracy. The Brotherhood says the government is trying to disrupt its campaign to elect members to the Shura Council, the upper house of the Egyptian parliament. Egyptian police arrested 31 Brotherhood members in June 2006 and an additional 72 members [JURIST reports] in February 2007. According to the Brotherhood, two children were among those arrested on Monday. AP has more.

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