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Sunday, 14 July, 2002, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Egyptian Islamists held
Central Cairo's al-Azhar mosque
Cairo's al-Azhar mosque was to host a demo, say police
Egyptian police have arrested 28 alleged members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Those arrested were planning a demonstration in Cairo's al-Azhar mosque to "stir the public against the regime", according to police sources.

Muslim Brotherhood
Arab world's oldest fundamentalist group
Began as peaceful youth group in 1920s
Became gradually militarised during 1930s and 1940s
Banned in 1954
Numbers: Unknown, but probably thousands particularly in southern Egypt
The Egyptian Government has accused the Brotherhood - one of three main Islamic groups in Egypt - of encouraging Islamist-inspired violence; the Brotherhood insists it is seeking to establish an Islamic state using peaceful means.

The planned demonstration was in support of about 120 people arrested in Alexandria at the end of June on suspicion of belonging to the organisation and causing a disturbance, sources said.

Leaders executed

Those detained in Alexandria accused the government of preventing them from casting votes in a by-election contested by two Muslim Brotherhood candidates.

Candidates from the ruling National Democratic Party won the seats.

The Muslim Brotherhood was banned by former President Gamal Abdel Nasser after an attempt on his life in 1954.

Thousands of its members were held without trial over a 20-year period, and some of its leaders executed.

Since 1995, hundreds of Brotherhood members have been tried and scores imprisoned.

The arrests follow a call for an end to violence by leaders of one of Egypt's other Islamic groups, Gamaa Islamiya.

The militant group, which was behind the 1997 Luxor massacre in Egypt in which 58 tourists died, also denounced Osama bin Laden and the 11 September attacks.

See also:

13 Jul 02 | Middle East
16 Sep 01 | Middle East
16 Jun 02 | Middle East
24 Dec 01 | Middle East
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