Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed president Mohamed Morsi rally outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque on July 12, 2013, following Friday noon prayer. (Photo credit: Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)
By Niraj Warikoo , Detroit Free Press
DETROIT -- The former president of Islamic American University - a controversial leader with the Muslim Brotherhood known for anti-Semitic remarks - and his son are being detained by Egyptian authorities.
Salah Soltan, who used to live in Dearborn, Mich., was arrested last week at the airport in Cairo while he was attempting to board a plane for Sudan. He was later charged with attempted murder and inciting others to kill protesters, according to the Daily News in Egypt and other publications.
His son, Mohamed Soltan, 25, was arrested Aug. 25 and charged with six crimes ranging from funding a terrorist organization to membership in an armed militia.
The arrests of the Soltans are part of a wider crackdown by the Egyptian government against the Muslim Brotherhood and others associated with them. Family members and friends say the charges are trumped up.
On Monday, the son released a letter saying he's being abused in jail. Mohamed Soltan wrote he suffered a gunshot wound on Aug. 14 during the Egyptian military's crackdown on Islamists protesting the military coup that had ejected the Muslim Brotherhood from power.
In his letter, Soltan said he's not getting medical treatment for his wound and that he is routinely beaten by his jailers.
"The brutality with which I have been treated has been mind-boggling," Soltan wrote in the open letter to his mother. "During the day, soldiers and police would get in two straight lines, and we would have to run in between them as they beat us with rocks and sticks. ... The officers stripped off our pants and shirts as they beat us with clubs. ... The surgical wound on my arm was open and oozing, and not one of the guards seemed to care because I was labeled a political prisoner."
An official with the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, D.C., declined to comment on the Soltans. A woman who answered the phone at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said no one was available to comment because it was after hours.
Born in Egypt, Mohamed Soltan lived with his family in Dearborn from 2000 to 2004, attending Star International Academy in Dearborn Heights and Fordson High School. His father headed the Islamic American University in Southfield, Mich., from 1999 to 2004.
Soltan graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in economics and moved to Egypt to work as a business manager at a petroleum services company, according to his sister, Hanaa Soltan, 28, of Virginia. He participated in the anti-military coup protests this summer, tweeting often about his activities.
"There is a great injustice being done to him, and many Egyptians, without cause," his sister said. "There's no end in sight, no judicial process."
In his letter, Soltan wrote he isn't a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and was just protesting for the type of liberties he remembers having in the U.S. The charges have no "basis in reality," he said.
"These are the principles that the American founding fathers also spoke highly of," Soltan added. "The people of Egypt have the natural right to freedom."
A Dearborn friend, Suhaib Al-Hanooti, has been working to publicize the case, saying the Egyptian authorities detained him merely "because he was part of a pro-democracy rally."
His father, Salah Soltan, has been known for repeatedly making anti-Semitic comments, according to the Anti-Defamation League. During a June 7 sermon in Egypt, he said Jews are "the enemies of God ... the cursed ones," according to the ADL.