A Muslim Brotherhood spokesman said he knew that 15 members of the group were arrested at their homes in Cairo and Giza, a district to Cairo's west, late Monday night. "We are still asking ourselves 'why?' Nothing happened at all," Maamoun el-Hodeibi said.
Police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 21 Brotherhood members had been arrested and are being interrogated by the chief of the State Security Prosecution, Hisham Badawi. The police gave no reason for the arrests.
El-Hodeibi said that those detained were professionals "with high social status." The group's statement said most were either medical doctors, university professors or engineers. The arrests came at a time "when we should all stand united," el-Hodeibi said referring to the global crackdown against terrorism. "There was no need to stir things up internally." The Muslim Brotherhood has condemned the U.S.-led attacks on Afghanistan because "the Afghan people are not responsible," el-Hodeibi said.
The government banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 1954, accusing it of advocating violence to create an Islamic state in Egypt. But the group says it has renounced violence. It is allowed to issue statements and endorse independent candidates in elections. In the last parliamentary elections, 17 Muslim Brotherhood members won seats, making them the largest opposition parliamentary bloc.