Amnesty Int'l warns Egypt against election harassment

Opposition Muslim Brotherhood says several of its rallies have been disrupted and more than 1,000 of its members have been detained.

November 21, 2010 11:07
1 minute read.
New Muslim Brotherhood head Mohamed Badie

muslim brotherhood 311. (photo credit: AP)

CAIRO  — The London-based Amnesty International called on Egyptian authorities to refrain from harassing election candidates as hundreds of opposition members have been arrested and their marches dispersed.

The opposition Muslim Brotherhood said Sunday that several of its rallies have been disrupted and more than a thousand of its members have been detained since the banned group announced their intention to contest elections last month.

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"The Egyptian authorities must uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and ensure that peaceful protesters are not arbitrarily arrested and detained," the rights group's Mideast director, Malcolm Smart, said in the statement issued late Saturday.

Amnesty also said the government was restricting public access to information by suppressing newspapers and satellite television stations.

The state press reported that clashes took place over the weekend across six provinces, mostly in the north, the heartland of Brotherhood support, and 30 policemen were injured. There were also some 20 marches by Brotherhood supporters on Friday across the Egypt's second largest city of Alexandria.

The port city's police chief told the daily Al-Shorouk that 2,000 supporters of Brotherhood parliamentary candidates marched through the city blocking traffic and chanting religious slogans in violation of the rule banning the use of religious imagery in campaigning.

The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood is the top rival to the ruling party of President Hosni Mubarak heading into the Nov. 28 vote. Many in Egypt fear the contest will see the same widespread violence that plagued the last parliamentary elections, in 2005, when police and government-backed vigilantes stopped people from casting ballots and clashed with rivals.

The Brotherhood, which is the best-organized opposition force in the country, says it has been pummeled by a wave of arrests with 300 members and supporters of the movement taken since Friday.

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