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Egypt Muslim Brotherhood members charged

CAIRO, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Egypt's state security prosecution has charged 78 leaders and members of the Muslim Brotherhood with attempting to topple the regime.

Security sources and the Islamic movement's Web site said Friday the prosecution has extended the detention of the activists, arrested in a nationwide sweep Thursday, for another 15 days.

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They said they were charged with "planning to organize demonstrations, distribute leaflets to obstruct the constitution and topple the ruling regime and working to reactivate the group's activities to influence public opinion" against the regime.

Egypt's semi-official al-Ahram daily said Friday the authorities foiled a plan by the Muslim Brotherhood to "incite citizens and push them to demonstrate in militant uniforms similar to those worn by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs militias."

The mass-circulation paper quoted unidentified officials as saying the security services discovered the details of the plot and seized "semi-military uniforms and white weapons," an Arabic term for knives. These items were to be used in demonstrations and "civil disobedience planned by the group," they said.

The Muslim Brotherhood, banned in Egypt since 1954 but enjoys substantial grassroots support, denied the accusations. The head of the movement's bloc in Parliament, Mohammad Saad al-Ketatni, said most of those arrested were officials in the offices of its lawmakers and described the crackdown as a "repressive measure reflecting the lies of the regime."

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The Egyptian authorities launched its campaign against the Islamic group in December following a militant parade by university students loyal to the Brotherhood.

The campaign was accompanied by statements from President Hosni Mubarak that the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood poses a threat to the country's security and economic stability.

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