Prominent youth activist detained in Egypt
CAIRO (AP) -- Authorities detained a prominent Egyptian youth leader upon arrival from the United States on Friday, a security official said, in the latest case of an activist being accused of inciting violence against the government.
The official said a warrant had been issued for the arrest of Ahmed Maher, a leader of the April 6 Youth Movement that was at the forefront of the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
He said Maher is accused of "incitement" for actions at a demonstration in March against the country's interior minister, when protesters hurled underwear at the minister's house to oppose a police crackdown on the activist group.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
A myriad of charges and complaints have been levied in recent months against activists, journalists and TV personalities, including well-known satirist Bassem Youssef, for insulting Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi.
Earlier this month, authorities arrested Ahmed Douma, a leading activist, and referred him to court for allegedly insulting the president in a TV interview.
Meanwhile, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood staged an anti-Israel rally in Cairo, the first such protest by the group since they rose to prominence in the wake of Mubarak's ouster.
Emerging from weekly services at Al-Azhar mosque -- the centuries-old seat of Sunni Muslim learning -- demonstrators chanted "the people want the destruction of Israel" in protest of recent Israeli airstrikes in Syria and the detention of a Palestinian Muslim cleric.
At one point, leading Brotherhood member Mohammed el-Beltagy took the microphone and shouted: "we will repeat it over and over, Israel is our enemy." Others echoed the call, and one organizer whipped up the crowd into a chant urging the army to launch a war against Israel to "liberate Palestine ... from the sons of monkeys and pigs."
Since the revolt that deposed longtime autocrat Mubarak, the Brotherhood -- known for its anti-Israeli and anti-Western rhetoric -- has largely avoided showing enmity to the West or its former foe on its eastern border.
Morsi himself has repeatedly stressed commitment to Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, and won U.S. praise by brokering a cease-fire between Palestinian Hamas militants and the Jewish state just months after he assumed his post.
But both the Islamist president and his group have had a hard time melding their longtime anti-Jewish stance with new responsibilities since coming to power.
Earlier this year, Brotherhood heavyweight Essam el-Erian created a stir after calling on Egyptian Jews who fled the country to return, in what many saw as a sort of outreach to Israel. Shortly after the remarks however, an Egyptian TV program revealed older comments by Morsi, in which he described Jews as "bloodsuckers" and "pigs."
The revelations raised alarm among senior U.S. officials and reminded Washington of the Brotherhood's anti-American and anti-Israeli roots -- a stance some fear the group could easily slide back into should it find it useful or necessary.
Morsi later distanced himself from the comments, saying he was quoted out of context and that he respects all religions. Such remarks are not uncommon in Egypt, where anti-Israeli, but not anti-Jewish, sentiment runs deep across the political spectrum.
Friday's protest centered on Israeli airstrikes in Syria that targeted alleged shipments of advanced Iranian missiles thought to be bound for Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Brotherhood official Yasser Mehres said.
The demonstrators were also protesting the Israeli detention of the mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, Mehres added in comments in the official newspaper of the Brotherhood's political party, Freedom and Justice. Hussein was held for several hours on Wednesday for questioning over disturbances at a holy site but released without charge.
The rally comes a day after Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Muslim cleric and Brotherhood ally, crossed to the Palestinian Gaza Strip to join a rally held by Hamas. At the rally, al-Qaradawi voiced support for militants who fire rockets at Israel and said the country has no right to exist.