Egypt's army-appointed government arrested Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie on Tuesday after a bloody crackdown on his supporters, underscoring its intention to crush the Islamic movement that had propelled the country's first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, to power.
Egypt is enduring its bloodiest week of internal strife since the monarchy was overthrown in 1952, with at least 900 people killed, after the authorities violently broke up Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo on August 14, Reuters reported.
A spokesman for a pro-Brotherhood alliance said the death toll among supporters of ousted President Morsi, deposed by the military on July 3, was at about 1,400.
The Interior Ministry said police picked up Mohamed Badie near Rabaa al Adawiyah square, where more than 280 Morsi supporters were killed on August 14 as police cleared their protest camp.
It released a video of the 70-year-old, sitting impassively on a sofa, bottles of juice and water placed conspicuously in front of him.
Following his arrest, the Muslim Brotherhood has temporarily appointed Mahmoud Ezzat, Badie's deputy, as the spiritual leader.
Interior Ministry sources told Al Jazeera that Badie was moved on Tuesday morning to Tora prison, located in southern Cairo, where ousted President Hosni Mubarak and other leaders from his regime are being held.
A senior Brotherhood official, Ahmed Aref, said on its website on Monday that Badei's arrest would change nothing.
"The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood is just one individual... among the millions who oppose the coup," he said.
Badie and his powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater, who is in custody, will go on trial later this month for their alleged role in the killing of eight protesters outside the Brotherhood's Cairo headquarters in June.
Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from Cairo, said the arrest was "incredibly significant."
"The arrest of the spiritual leader was always seen as a red line, even Hosni Mubarak never arrested him, but this military-led government is clearly ignoring that."
Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from Cairo, said Badie had been seen in public only once since Morsi was overthrown and that, with his arrest, most of the Brotherhood's leadership are now in the custody of the military-led government.
“He made an appearance on stage at the sit-in protest at Rabaa Mosque," our correspondent said. "That was the only time anybody seen him. He’s been in hiding since then."
The Facebook page of the Interior Ministry also displayed pictures of Badie with a caption confirming his arrest.
"Carrying out the decisions of the public prosecutor to arrest and bring forward the general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie, and through collected information and observation of movements it was possible for the criminal search apparatus under the direction of Cairo's security [services] to arrest him," the caption said.
A son of Badie was killed in Cairo during last week's "Day of Rage" protests against the army-backed government and the crackdown on its opponents. Ammar Badie, 38, died of a bullet wound sustained while taking part in protests in the city's Ramses Square,
In a televised speech late on July 3 night, Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that Morsi, a former leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was no longer in office and declared that the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, had been appointed as the new interim president of Egypt. The army also suspended the constitution.
Army officials said ousted President Morsi, who took office in June 2012, was being held “preventively” by the military.
On July 4, Mansour was sworn in as interim president. Next day, he dissolved the Shura Council by decree.
On July 5, Muslim Brotherhood leader Badie said the coup against Morsi is illegal and millions will remain on the street until he is reinstated as president.
Badie vowed to "complete the revolution" that toppled the Western-backed regime of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The Egyptians launched the revolution against the pro-Israeli regime on January 25, 2011, which eventually brought an end to the 30-year dictatorship of Mubarak on February 11, 2011.
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