Detaining more than 1,250 of MB supporters during ongoing parliamentary elections

Egypt’s leading opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, accused the government on Monday of detaining more than 1,250 of its supporters during ongoing parliamentary elections in retaliation for its success at the polls.

The Brotherhood has done surprisingly well in the three-stage elections, winning 76 seats so far – five times as many as it held in the outgoing assembly and far more than any other opposition party. President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party and allied independents have won 222 of the legislature’s 444 elected seats.

The polling began last month, and the final day is Wednesday.

The Brotherhood’s success has led to increased state intervention, the group said.

In last Thursday’s voting, police blockaded some of the polling stations where opposition candidates were favored to win. One person was killed when police opened fire on a crowd of voters pushing to enter a polling station in the Nile Delta province of Kafr el-Sheik.

In its statement Monday, the Brotherhood said police had arrested 1,286 of its members and supporters during the past three weeks. Police would not comment Monday on the number of detainees, but last week officials admitted arresting about 500 Brotherhood supporters.

“Police are now chasing Brotherhood members in the streets, if they don’t find them at home,’’ the Brotherhood statement said. “The reason for that, unfortunately, is that the Brotherhood has achieved a remarkable support among the people and has progressed in the elections in a way that threatens the political strategy of the ruling National Democratic Party.’’

The statement warned that the group was “unable to predict a safe future for Egypt under the violations that took place during the past stages of the legislative elections.’’

The Brotherhood has been banned since 1954, but is tolerated with restrictions. As it cannot field candidates in elections, its members stand as “independents,’’ but their allegiance is known to voters.

The group calls for implementing Islamic law, but it has long been vague about what this means. It campaigns for headscarves for women and against immodest dress, for example, but it insists it stands for a more moderate version of Islam than that followed in Saudi Arabia.