There are also reports that Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace laureate and former head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, has been arrested in Cairo. Earlier, the Egyptian government blocked internet, mobile phone and SMS services in order to disrupt the planned demonstrations. At least seven people have died and up to 1,200 have been arrested since the protests began. Arabic wire news services have reported that 1,000 activists were arrested in addition last night, and 149 have been charged with attempting to overthrow the government. Egyptian authorities have also arrested 20 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including two of its most senior members. On Thursday, Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Essam Al-Arian called the protests an *”explosion”* of popular resistance.
Essam Al-Arian: *”We predict that closing the doors, rigging the elections for casting the worker syndicates and professional syndicates, preventing even students from choosing their student unions freely, that it will accumulate and accumulate and lead to explosion. We are facing the explosion.”*
**U.S. Continues to Back Mubarak**
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is a longtime U.S. ally, and his government is among the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid. White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration continues to back Mubarak’s reign.
Robert Gibbs: *”This isn’t a choice between the government and the people of Egypt. Egypt, we know, and President Mubarak has for several decades been a close and important partner with our country.”*