Egyptian police detained 21 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday, including top leader Mahmoud Ezzat, the secretary general of the Brotherhood's 15-man Guidance Council. The crackdown has come as the government prepares for Wednesday's referendum on election reform. Both the Brotherhood and prominent recognized opposition parties have called on Egyptians to boycott the upcoming vote.
First Lady Laura Bush toured Jerusalem's Western Wall, on Sunday as part of a Mideast visit intended to promote women's rights in the region. Mrs. Bush arrived in Israel after speaking Saturday in Jordan at the World Economic Forum conference on the Middle East. Next on the first lady's agenda: discussions with Palestinian women leaders in the West Bank town of Jericho and a visit to Egypt.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called for an end to recent Palestinian attacks in the Gaza Strip, saying there must be "complete quiet" for peace making to move forward. Sharon's remarks came in a Sunday speech for more than 1,000 Jewish leaders in New York City. The prime minister is hoping to bolster ties with American Jews with his three day visit. In his remarks, Sharon also dismissed as "baseless" Israeli media reports that the pullback from Gaza could be delayed beyond mid-August.
The United Nations condemned on Sunday the alleged abuse of detainees at the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, and has urged the US military to allow a probe by Afghan human rights investigators. The condemnation centers around the deaths of two Afghans at the Bagram base north of the capital, Kabul, in December 2002. Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday called for the US to hand over all Afghans still in its custody.
More unauthorized photos of Saddam Hussein were released by the British tabloid The Sun over the weekend. The photos, taken through barbed wire, include images of the former Iraqi dictator wearing a white Arab robe and Ali Hassan al Majid, also known as "Chemical Ali," in a bathrobe. The Sun claims that the photos were provided by unidentified "US military sources." The US military has condemned publication of the photos and ordered an investigation.