Forty-two jailed members of Egypt's Islamist militant group Jihad pledged Wednesday to support a ceasefire with the government and focus instead on "liberating Jerusalem" by peaceful means.
The detainees, most of whom are awaiting trial, signed a petition backing Osama Ayub, a Jihad leader living in exile in Germany, who last month renewed support for an existing ceasefire and called for the release of Islamist prisoners.
They said they had renounced violence "to clear the way for the true Islamic calling to the religion of Allah and to direct all efforts towards liberating Jerusalem."
Islamist lawyer Saad Hasaballah, who faxed the petition to AFP, explained that they wanted to free Jerusalem from Israeli occupation "by peaceful means."
Their commitment to non-violence "represents a strong trend among the Egyptian Islamist groups," he told AFP by telephone.
In his statement, Ayub praised the government for freeing over 1,000 Islamists since February but called for more releases, a reversal of death sentences and the opening of closed prisons.
Jihad claimed responsibility for the 1981 assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and took part in a campaign of anti-government violence started in 1992.
The call to end the violence was first made in July 1997 by six imprisoned leaders of Egypt's largest armed Islamist group, Jamaa Islamiya, which claimed responsibility for killing 58 tourists at Luxor in November that year -- CAIRO (AFP).
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