Dozens Detained in Egyptian Pre-Election Crackdown on Opposition

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Dozens Detained in Egyptian Pre-Election Crackdown on Opposition

LONDON - Amnesty International today called on the Egyptian authorities to
immediately release, or charge with a recognizable criminal offence,
more than 70 members of the Muslim Brotherhood group arrested this week.

More
than 150 people have been arrested since the Muslim Brotherhood
chairman, Mohamed Badie’, said on 9 October that the group will put up
candidates in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for 29
November.

About half of those arrested have been released. The 70
still held include supporters of Muslim Brotherhood election candidates
and several regional leaders of the organization, including, Mohamed
Sweidan of Baheira, whose detention was yesterday extended for 15 days
Mustafa al-Khouli and Essam al-Gharbawi.

“Those arrested appear
to be detained solely on account of their association with the Muslim
Brotherhood organization,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s
director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The arrests
appear intended to disrupt Muslim Brotherhood campaigning and deter
people from supporting the organization in the coming elections.”

The arrests were made across 17 Egyptian regions including Baheira, Qina, Aswan, Sharqiya, and Alexandria.

“If
the forthcoming elections are to be fair and credible, the Egyptian
government must ensure that they are conducted on a ‘level playing
field’ and uphold the rights to freedom of association of all candidates
and their supporters,” said Malcolm Smart.

The Muslim
Brotherhood has been officially banned in Egypt since 1954. However, it
has continued to operate openly and leaders and supporters of the
organization have stood as independent candidates in previous
parliamentary elections, in many cases successfully.

It has wide popular support and is generally seen as the main rival to Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party.

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