November 30, 2005

Egypt’s Brotherhood says police round up 1,600

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian police rounded up hundreds of
Muslim Brotherhood organisers in the two days before the last
stage of parliamentary elections, bringing the total in two
weeks to over 1,600, the Brotherhood said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Mohamed Osama said the total included 576 arrests
in the last two days, mostly in the provinces which will vote
on Thursday. He earlier said that 1,610 Brotherhood members had
been arrested in the last two days alone.

The authorities had given the Brotherhood unprecedented
leeway in the run-up to the elections but cracked down after
the group made strong gains in the early stages of voting.

A Brotherhood statement on arrests in Dakahlia province in
the Nile Delta said the arrests were intended to disrupt the
Islamic group's election preparations.

The people detained include representatives of the
candidates and those running their election campaigns, it

"The Interior Ministry alleges that these people of social
and political weight ... intended to corrupt the electoral
process and that swords, chains and clubs were found in their
possession," it said.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said he had no information
on the detentions.

The Egyptian authorities routinely round up large numbers
of Brotherhood organisers before elections to disrupt the
Islamist group's attempts to get out the vote.

The latest arrests are mostly in the provinces of Dakahlia,
Damietta, Sharkia and Kafr el-Sheikh in the Nile Delta and
Sohag in southern Egypt. All these areas will vote on Thursday.

The Brotherhood has won 76 of the 444 elected seats in
parliament in the elections so far and stands a good chance of
bringing its total close to 100 after voting ends on December

The Brotherhood members of parliament, who have to stand as
independents because the authorities refuse to let them set up
a party, will form the largest opposition group in the Egyptian
parliament for more than 50 years.