Egypt detains 8 Islamists, bars leader from travel

Egyptian authorities detained eight members of the Muslim Brotherhood on Monday, security and Brotherhood sources said, as part of a crackdown on the country's strongest opposition group ahead of local elections.

Egypt detains 8 Islamists, bars leader from travel
Police also barred a senior Brotherhood official from travelling to Saudi Arabia to attend a conference, the official and Egyptian security sources said.

Police picked up the eight Islamists in the Nile Delta province of Dakahlia, security sources said, nearly a week before nationwide local council elections in which the Brotherhood is competing against the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

Egyptian police have so far detained more than 800 Brotherhood members in recent weeks, including at least 148 would-be candidates in the council vote.

The group, which seeks an Islamic state, says the government has denied many of its members the right to run in the local elections. The interior ministry has repeatedly declined to comment.

Seats on local councils could be important to the Brotherhood on a national level if it wanted to field an independent candidate for a presidential run in the future.

Independent candidates for the presidency need endorsements from 140 members of local councils as well as support from members of both houses of parliament.

The government says the Brotherhood is banned but the group operates openly. Its members, who run as independent candidates, control roughly a fifth of the seats in the lower house of parliament. One security source said authorities at Cairo International Airport barred Abdel-Hamid el-Ghazali, the political advisor to the Brotherhood's top leader Mohamed Mahdi Akef, from travelling to Saudi Arabia to attend a conference on Islamic economics.

Ghazali said he had been barred from travelling eight times in the last two years despite a court ruling revoking any travel ban against him by the Interior Ministry.

"This is a flagrant aggression against my basic rights as a citizen," said Ghazali, a professor of political economy at Cairo University.

U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch said on Sunday Egypt's arrests of Brotherhood members and would-be election candidates amounted to a "shameless bid" to fix the vote.

Agencies
Last Mod: 01 Nisan 2008, 09:04
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