Egypt Arrests Leader of Pro-Democracy Group in Night Raid

A key leader of Egypt's main pro-democracy group was arrested Wednesday night during a raid on his home in Cairo, police and group officials said.

George Ishaq, director-general of Kifaya, was taken away by security officers who stormed the home around 8 p.m., one of the group's founders, Abdel-Halim Qandil, told The Associated Press. He said more than 50 members of the movement had been arrested this week.

A police officer confirmed Ishaq's arrest, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

Ishaq had not been formally charged, but was expected to undergo interrogation. Egyptian authorities often detain suspects for weeks or months without charge.

Kifaya, which means "Enough" in Arabic, is a broad-based movement that has spearheaded demonstrations against the government of President Hosni Mubarak since late 2004.

Qandil accused the Egyptian government of cracking down on Kifaya in retaliation for a nationwide labor strike last weekend.

"The authorities want to create a case against Kifaya. They want to indict us and frame the movement as a banned group," Qandil said.

"It's not like Kifaya is a secret society or an underground group. We openly call for demonstrations and strikes, but we do this without harming national security or public and private property," he said.

Thousands of Egyptians skipped school and work Sunday and hundreds marched at rallies across the country to protest high food prices. The demonstrations were organized by several opposition groups, including Kifaya.

The nationwide strike was the first major attempt by such groups to turn the past year's labor unrest into a wider political protest against Mubarak's government and his ruling party.