Government clamps down on opposition as Hosni Mubarak, the president, announces date for parliamentary elections.
|Muslim Brotherhood members stand as independent candidates to get around a government ban [EPA]|
Egyptian authorities have arrested about 50 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed opposition group, as they put up posters ahead of elections in November.
A security official, who wished to remain anonymous, said the political activists were rounded up in and around the coastal city of Alexandria on Tuesday because the posters bore religious slogans in violation of electoral laws.
Police arrested the members “at dawn as they were hanging posters for a woman candidate in various parts of the Alexandria governorate,” Hussein Ibrahim, a Muslim Brotherhood politician and candidate, said.
The Brotherhood, which fields candidates as independents to get around the ban on it standing, won a fifth of the seats in the last election in 2005, despite a police crackdown.
Ibrahim, who will be standing for re-election in the November 28 parliamentary poll, said the posters carried the Quranic phrase “Allahu akbar” (God is greater).
He denied accusations that the traditional Brotherhood slogan – “Islam is the solution” – featured on the posters put up in the northern city, an opposition stronghold.
“The streets of Alexandria are rife with campaign posters for candidates from the National Democratic Party (NDP) which carry Quranic verses,” Ibrahim said of the ruling party of Hosni Mubarak, the president.
The latest arrests bring to 260 the number of Brotherhood supporters who have been detained over the past 10 days, the security official said. Most of them have now been released.
A total of 508 seats are up for election in the legislature, which is currently dominated by the NDP.
Another 10 seats are presidential appointees.