Egyptian authorities launch regular crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood, which operates openly despite being officially banned.

 

Brotherhood members elected as independents hold 88 seats in the 454-member lower house of parliament, which is dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party.

   

Some analysts say the government is preparing for a wider assault on the group after Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, said this month that the Brotherhood posed a threat to Egypt's security.

   

The government was also angered by a protest march at al-Azhar University last month in which students wore militia-style uniforms and black balaclavas.

 

State media said the march showed the group was forming a militia.

 

Mubarak has also proposed constitutional amendments that include a ban on forming political parties based on religion.

 

The Brotherhood says it wants to establish a civil, democratic party that is not exclusive to Muslims.