Egypt police hold Islamists ahead of Gaza protests

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian police detained 20 members of the Muslim Brotherhood and deployed in force in the capital on Friday, ahead of demonstrations the Islamist group called to protest Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

Hundreds of riot police and agents were deployed around key mosques in Cairo before the protest, which was due to take place after Friday prayers.

A Reuters photographer said police agents were rounding up civilians outside one of Cairo’s prominent mosques near the Ramses railway station downtown.

An Interior Minister official declined to comment on the security operation.

The Brotherhood, Egypt’s strongest opposition group, said police rounded up at least nine members in four provinces.

“The campaign (of arrests) is still going on,” the group said on its website (

The Brotherhood has historical and ideological ties with Hamas Islamists who rule the Gaza Strip. The group has been leading a broad campaign to end the Israeli-led blockade on the coastal strip.

Israel says the attacks, which have killed more than 400 people, are designed to stop Hamas from firing rockets on towns in southern Israel.

The Egyptian government, which says the Brotherhood is outlawed but which allows it to operate, is wary that the group may attract more popular support by extending help to the Palestinians and criticizing Arab states for not doing enough to stop the violence.

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