• December 4, 2005
  • 3 minutes read

Egypt police ’detain’ Islamists

Egypt police ’detain’ Islamists


Egyptian police have detained hundreds of members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood before the final round of the parliamentary poll, the group says.
A spokesman for the banned Islamist group told Reuters 576 members had been held in the last two days, many in governorates due to vote on Thursday.

The brotherhood said the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) wanted to thwart its election campaign.

The Interior Ministry said it had no information on the detentions.
The Muslim Brotherhood has become the largest opposition force for 50 years in the People’s Assembly, Egypt’s parliament.

Independent candidates allied to the group have won 76 seats in the election so far.

Mohammed Osama, a spokesman for the group, said 576 members had been arrested in the last two days, mainly in the Nile Delta governorates of Daqahliya, Kafr al-Sheikh, Sharqiya, and Suhaj in the south.

These governorates will be the scene of the election’s final round on Thursday.

US criticism

Mr Osama added that the authorities are still holding 550 of the 898 members detained during the second round run-off vote on Saturday.

Monitors say Saturday’s vote was marred by violence between rival political groups, voter intimidation and fraud.

Police reportedly blocked access to voting booths in areas where the Muslim Brotherhood has a strong following.

The United States said on Tuesday that the reports were “sources of real concern”.

It has called on the Egyptian government to provide the conditions under which voters can express their will freely without fear of violence.

Judges accused

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Judges has accused judges supervising the election of playing politics in clear violation of the law, and threatened them with prosecution if they talk to the media.

The judges had earlier criticised the Interior Ministry for failing in its duty when police stood by as government supporters armed with knives attacked voters outside several polling stations.

Some judges had also questioned the results of the second round.

BBC Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi says the row is a clear indication of the rising political temperature in Egypt, as the ruling NDP struggles to regain some of its lost prestige.

The results of the first and second rounds have confirmed the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood as the real winner, our correspondent says.

The NDP has suffered a number of setbacks, but it is still expected to win the majority of seats.

As the debate over the government’s handling of the election intensifies, the fight over the remaining 136 seats is expected to be fierce.

Unlike the previous rounds, more than 20 women are running in some of the most conservative provinces in Egypt, where tribal and family ties determine people’s votes.

Story from BBC NEWS