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Egypt targets Web-savvy opponents

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On his blog, Mahmoud has been outspoken about Egypt's use of torture. His concern is, in part, personal.

He wrote this January about his harrowing detention at a wing of Tora prison in 2003, during which time he and others were forced to stand for 14 hours straight (those that fell over were beaten and then propped back up). When he removed his blindfold in solitary confinement, he wrote, he was beaten. Then he was forced to keep the blindfold on for 13 days straight as punishment.

Ibrahim al-Houdaiby, a young board member for Ikhwan Web, another Muslim Brotherhood website, says the current crackdown is designed to pave the way to power for Gamal Mubarak, the aging Egyptian leader's son who has become increasingly central to the planning of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

"We're the main obstacle to this authoritarian plan, so they're making sure the strongest opposition leaders are in jail," says Mr. Houdaiby. "This regime doesn't have ideology; it's not going after us because we're Islamists, but because we just happen to be the strongest opponent."

Houdaiby, currently overseas, says he fears arrest when he returns home in the next few days.

But his concern about the crackdown is not just about himself. He worries that more government attacks on basic freedoms will lead to more terrorism.

"This is the worst attack on the Brotherhood since the 1950s. The repression of that era led to most of the radical movements that have threatened the peace and security of the world since. I reject violence, and I always will. But when people see the door shut to peaceful expression, some will turn to violence."

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