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Turkiye officials deny arresting dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members

November 1, 2022 at 4:33 pm

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Talaat Fahmy speaks during an interview in his office on January 19, 2021, in Istanbul [BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images]

Turkish official sources have denied reports that authorities arrested and detained 34 members of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement who called for protests in Egypt, alleging that the reports were an effort to distress Brotherhood leaders residing in Turkiye.

On Sunday, the Saudi newspaper, Asharq Al-Aswat, claimed in a report that Turkish authorities had arrested the Muslim Brotherhood members due to their preparations to launch a new channel on the messaging app, Telegram, to “incite protests, acts of violence and chaos in Egypt”.

The unrest was reportedly meant to take place on 11 November, during the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference – Cop27 – which is set to take place in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh. The supposedly detained members were also said to be put on a deportation list.

According to two senior Turkish officials who spoke to the London-based news outlet, Middle East Eye, however, the alleged arrest of dozens of the members did not take place, with one of the anonymous sources saying “We only detained an Egyptian journalist who was later released”.

That Egyptian journalist was Hossam Al-Ghamry, who broadcasted on his Twitter account on Sunday that Turkish police briefly detained him, and later released him after an outcry on social media. “I am back home, thanks to God,” he stated.

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“This experience helped me understand the feeling of my son, Yusef, who has been forcibly disappeared, without a crime except being my son,” referring to 24-year-old Yusef Al-Ghamry, who was taken from his home in the northern Sharqia province by Egyptian security forces on 25 October.

The disappearance of Yusef, an engineering student, was conducted due to his father – based in Istanbul – being one of the exiled Egyptian dissidents who called for the anti-government protests during Cop27.

According to a separate Turkish source who spoke to the outlet, it is a common tactic of Arab media organisations to publish such reports of crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkiye for the purpose of causing fear and discomfort amongst the Movement’s leaders residing in the country.

Following the 2013 military coup in Egypt which ousted the country’s first democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi – a Brotherhood member – and put current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in power, many of the Movement’s members and leadership found refuge in Turkiye. That was especially due to Ankara’s condemnation of the coup, and the Egyptian military’s massacre of over 1,000 protestors, as well as its refusal to recognise Sisi’s rule.

The situation has changed since then, however, with Ankara and Cairo accelerating their efforts towards reconciliation over the past two years. One major step the Turkish government took last year was to request Egyptian opposition channels operating in the country – many reportedly linked to the Brotherhood – to tone down their criticism of the Sisi government in order to aid the reconciliation process, which has prompted some of those channels and outlets to leave Turkiye.

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