In a statement faxed to Aljazeera.net, al-Sadawi said the authorities stopped her from holding a forum on freedom of speech on Friday.

 

Al-Sadawi is known for her bold criticism of Arab governments. Former Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat imprisoned her in September 1981 along with other intellectuals, academics and politicians. 

 

Al-Sadawi said she had been holding such meetings in her village of Kafr Talha in northern Egypt for more than half a century.  

 

"What threat could be posed if I hold a meeting with my fellow villagers?" she said to Aljazeera.net. "Free elections cannot be held without freedom of speech and an effective mechanism to arrange meetings and forums."

 

She said she is banned from talking to state-run media and that there is a double standard when it comes to dealing with opposition candidates.

 

Claims dismissed 

 

Husam al-Badrawi, an Egyptian parliament member and a member of the ruling National Democratic Party, dismissed al-Sadawi's accusations.

 

"Constitution change to have more than one presidential candidate has not been approved yet. It is still under discussion in the parliament," he said.

 

"When the law is passed after a referendum, there will be clear rules on how presidential campaigns are to be run.

 

"Until that happens, no one can claim to be a presidential candidate and demand free access to state-run media," he said.

 

Egypt is expected to hold its first multi-candidate presidential elections this year after President Husni Mubarak announced plans to scrap the existing system that lets parliament choose a single candidate for a referendum.