Several senior members of the Islamist opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, have been detained, including its deputy leader, Mahmoud Ezzat. The Brotherhood is officially outlawed in Egypt but its members have many seats in parliament, sitting as independents. A spokesman for the group said the arrests were an attempt by the authorities to thwart its preparations for elections later in the year. Brotherhood members standing as independent candidates won 20percent of the seats in the last parliamentary election in 2005, its best ever result. In January, the movement named Mohammed Badi, a 66-year-old veterinary professor, as its new leader. The group has influenced Islamist movements around the world with its model of political activism combined with charity work. (BBC)

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