(CNSNews.com) – Weeks after a group of Egyptians was arrested in the United Arab Emirates, media in the Gulf state reported Tuesday that investigators suspect the men of working on behalf of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, seeking recruits and giving lectures on bringing down government in Arab countries.
In Egypt, dozens of people protested outside the UAE embassy and representatives of medical and engineering organizations urged the foreign ministry to intervene. Doctors and engineers were among the 11 men detained, according to UAE reports.
Egypt’s state news agency MENA put the number at 13, said they included doctors, engineers and journalists, and that no reasons had been given for the arrests.
There has been no formal confirmation from the UAE authorities.
The reported arrests look set to increase bilateral tensions that have emerged since the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power in Egypt following the fall of the Hosni Mubarak regime. Last October UAE foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said the Muslim Brotherhood “does not believe in the nation state” and urged neighboring Gulf states to join forces against what he said were its plots to undermine their governments.
The police chief of the UAE emirate of Dubai, Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan, earlier gave similar warnings.
Last summer UAE authorities arrested 60 Islamists belonging to an UAE group called Al Islah, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate. Prosecutors said they had confessed to plans to work towards the establishment of an Islamist government, using funding from the Muslim Brotherhood abroad.
They are facing charges of violating a law banning the formation of any organization that compromises the security of the state.
Allegations about the latest group of men arrested was leaked to a UAE daily, Al Khaleej. A security official told the paper they had held secret meetings, recruited Egyptian expatriates, collected money to send illegally to the Brotherhood in Egypt, and had gathered confidential information about UAE defense capabilities – all in continuous coordination with the mother organization in Egypt.
Hundreds of people were connected with the network, said the source, alleging “conspiracies” against UAE state security. Some of the suspects had been put on a list banning them from flying out of the country pending interrogation.
UAE media reports said some of those detained had worked in the country for many years. In Cairo, relatives described them as devout Muslims who were not linked with the Brotherhood.
Muslim Brotherhood assistant secretary-general Abdullah Al-Karioni said in a statement “post-revolution” Egypt would not accept the violation of the rights of Egyptians and warned that such actions would have a negative effect on relations between Egypt and the UAE.
Founded in the 1920s with the goal of restoring the Islamic caliphate, the Muslim Brotherhood in time became the most important political organization in Egypt despite being formally banned and the target of state repression.
It later also became active in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states and in 1987 established the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip.
The so-called “Arab spring” brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt and empowered Islamists across the region, prompting concerns among leaders of the Gulf monarchies and other autocratic states.
When Kuwait witnessed an unusually large public demonstration last October, media outlets in the country accused the Muslim Brotherhood of orchestrating the event. Officials in Cairo denied the charge.
After the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi became president of Egypt last June he said during an inauguration ceremony that the organization would not interfere in other countries’ affairs or seek to “export the revolution.”