Thousands of Egyptian Islamists protest, 11 injured

Eleven members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood were injured when police used rubber bullets, teargas and batons to disperse thousands of Brotherhood protesters on Tuesday, security sources said.

Thousands of Egyptian Islamists protest, 11 injured
The group's members had rallied in a number of provinces to protest against government efforts to block them from running in April 8 local elections, Brotherhood and security sources said.

Police used teargas and rubber bullets to break up around 3,000 protesters gathered in front of a courthouse in Damanhour, Beheira, the sources added.

One policeman was injured in Tanta, Gharbia when protesters threw stones at riot police after the police used batons and teargas to break up a demonstration by about 5,000 Brotherhood members.

Protests were held in the provinces of Gharbia, Alexandria, Ismailia, Beheira, Sharkia and Sohag, security sources said.

In the past few weeks, Egyptian courts have issued hundreds of rulings obliging the government to accept the candidacy of members of the Brotherhood, but the Brotherhood say authorities have ignored these rulings.

The courts then issued scores of rulings ordering a halt to the elections in a number of provinces because of authorities' refusal to comply, but there is no indication those rulings will be implemented either.

The sources said police detained 45 Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Gharbia, 35 in Ismailia and 4 in Alexandria, including two men who had received court rulings recognising them as candidates in the forthcoming ballot.

"No repect for constitution"

The Brotherhood's deputy leader, Mohamed Habib, said "Those (Brotherhood) candidates are facing a (ruling) party and authorities that have no respect for the constitution, and who have no regard for laws or consideration for judicial rulings."

Earlier, security forces detained five Brotherhood members putting up campaign posters for the elections, security sources and the group said. They were the latest to be held in a government crackdown on the Brotherhood ahead of the vote.

Egyptian police have rounded up more than 800 members of the group in recent weeks in the run-up to the council vote, including at least 148 would-be candidates.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has called the recent arrests a "shameless bid" to fix the elections, in which the Brotherhood is running against the ruling National Democratic Party.

The Interior Ministry has repeatedly declined to comment.

The Brotherhood seeks an Islamic state through democratic means.

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

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 Muslim Brotherhood, which operates openly despite a decades-old ban, holds a fifth of the seats in the lower house of parliament through members elected as independents.

Agencies
Last Mod: 02 Nisan 2008, 12:38
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