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And Then There Were None: Egypt Arrests Last Muslim Brotherhood Leader

Essam el-Erian, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, was found hiding in an upscale neighborhood of Cairo and detained for inciting violence.

Posted on October 30, 2013, at 4:42 p.m. ET

Egyptian authorities on Wednesday arrested Esaam el-Erian, deputy head of the Freedom and Justice Party, known for his polarizing character and making statements that range from violent to absurd.

Along with his fiery statements, he was also known for his particularly prominent prayer bump, a callous that forms from pressing the forehead down when praying.
Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters

Along with his fiery statements, he was also known for his particularly prominent prayer bump, a callous that forms from pressing the forehead down when praying.

Egyptian TV broadcasted this picture of a smiling Erian wearing a white galabeya (traditional male robe) at the time of his arrest.

Handout / Reuters

Dozens of Brotherhood leaders and hundreds of rank and file members have been arrested since Mohamed Morsi was ousted as president in July. Morsi is set to stand trial beginning November 4.

AP Photo / AP

Erian, 59, evaded capture for months.

Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

He was a frequent public voice for the Muslim Brotherhood under Morsi’s rule.

Hussein Malla / AP

And held many leadership roles in the Brotherhood and its affiliated political movement, The Freedom and Justice Party. He also served a stint in parliament, and was a leader in the Brotherhood-dominated Doctor’s Syndicate.

Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

Since the military's ouster of Mohamed Morsi on July 3, he has been one of the most vocal critics of what he calls the military's undemocratic coup.

Hassan Ammar / AP

He has taken a hard-line approach, refusing to take part in talks with the interim government appointed by the military.

Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

Now he stands accused of instigating street clashes and inciting violence on several occasions over the last year. He will be held for 30 days, pending trial.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

During one protest outside the presidential palace in December, which left at least 10 people dead, Erian appeared on an Islamist TV channel and asked supporters "in the tens of thousands, to besiege those thugs.”

Nasser Nasser / AP

Twitter was immediately abuzz with news of Erian's arrest – and commentary on his final photo shoot.

Photo of Dr. Essam El-Erian alledgedly during his arrest. When did he join the space program? What an outfit! #Egypt

Cliff Cheney

@cliffcheney

Photo of Dr. Essam El-Erian alledgedly during his arrest. When did he join the space program? What an outfit! #Egypt

/ Via

Many wondering why #MB smile in arrest photos, but seems logical to me. Shows resilience & "fight is not over" attitude to supporters #Egypt

Mai El-Sadany

@maitelsadany

Many wondering why #MB smile in arrest photos, but seems logical to me. Shows resilience & "fight is not over" attitude to supporters #Egypt

/ Via

I despise #Erian & MB leaders but also those who film/photograph their arrest. "WE" are becoming everything we hated abt "them"#Egypt

Yasmine Farouk

@YasFarouk

I despise #Erian & MB leaders but also those who film/photograph their arrest. "WE" are becoming everything we hated abt "them"#Egypt

/ Via

There was also discussion of some of Erian's more memorable public statements.

Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

In August, he called on Egyptians to besiege the U.S. embassy after Morsi's ouster. "We hope the diplomats will not be exposed to any harm, but we want them out of the country. We do not want them on our land.”

#TopNews: Essam al-#Erian calls for besieging #US embassy for 'role in military coup' http://t.co/DZStSt7Lqc #Egypt

EgyptSource

@EgyptSource

#TopNews: Essam al-#Erian calls for besieging #US embassy for 'role in military coup' http://t.co/DZStSt7Lqc #Egypt

/ Via

In May, he made headlines when he accused a former senior member of the Palestinian Fatah movement of plotting to undermine security in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

#Egypt Brotherhood's #Erian accuses #Palestinian #Fatah of destabilising Sinai http://t.co/Nl5U0bcBfU #abbas #gaza #hamas

Ahram Online

@ahramonline

#Egypt Brotherhood's #Erian accuses #Palestinian #Fatah of destabilising Sinai http://t.co/Nl5U0bcBfU #abbas #gaza #hamas

/ Via

As a public voice of the Brotherhood, he was also notorious for double speak.

#Erian, on Easter, gives positive message of religious diversity, but does not technically 'greet' Copts. Sufficient? http://t.co/hKQjBGU8KU

Jayson Casper

@jnjcasper

#Erian, on Easter, gives positive message of religious diversity, but does not technically 'greet' Copts. Sufficient? http://t.co/hKQjBGU8KU

/ Via

After the Boston marathon bombing in April, the Brotherhood condemned the attack in English, but Erian in a Facebook post questioned the timeline of events. "Who funded the violence?”

Here is Muslim Brotherhood's #Erian twisted statement about #BostonMarathon translated to English by @hhassan140 http://t.co/RFt4SECiRk…

Nervana Mahmoud

@Nervana_1

Here is Muslim Brotherhood's #Erian twisted statement about #BostonMarathon

translated to English by @hhassan140 http://t.co/RFt4SECiRk…

/ Via

In a January TV interview he called on Egypt's Jews to return to the country: "I wish our Jews return to our country, so they can make room for the Palestinians to return, and Jews return to their homeland in light of the democracy" evolving in Egypt.

"I call on them now," he added. "Egypt is more deserving of you."

"I call on them now," he added. "Egypt is more deserving of you."

He added, "Why stay in a racist entity, an occupation, and be tainted with war crimes that will be punished, all occupation leaders will be punished," he said. In separate comments he added that the Zionist "project" will end.

The FJP distanced the party from Erian's proposal.
Hassan Ammar / AP

The FJP distanced the party from Erian's proposal.

The satirist Bassem Youssef mocked Erian's statement and public reaction to it, and compared him to James Bond because of the various roles he played for the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the episode, Youssef sharply criticized the Brotherhood and other Egyptian political figures for rhetoric inciting sectarianism between Egyptian Christians and Muslims.
Via youtube.com

In the episode, Youssef sharply criticized the Brotherhood and other Egyptian political figures for rhetoric inciting sectarianism between Egyptian Christians and Muslims.

As the country reverts back to a pre-Morsi mentality, Erian's arrest is a sign that the short-lived permissive era of Muslim Brotherhood participation in Egyptian politics is nearing a complete close.

I guess there is no one left at this stage #Egypt #erian

thecritiq

@thecritiqq

I guess there is no one left at this stage #Egypt #erian

/ Via

Hours after Erian’s arrest, pro-Muslim Brotherhood student protesters rioted at Al-Azhar Islamic university, the center of Sunni learning. Police stormed the campus to stop the unrest.

Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

With the Muslim Brotherhood now banned and their media and sit-ins shutdown, student protests like this are one of the few sites left for political contestation.

Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

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