CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian authorities have detained 52 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, a security source said Saturday, ahead of elections for parliament’s upper house in which the Islamist group is fielding candidates.
“Fifty-two supporters of Muslim Brotherhood candidates in the elections have been arrested between Friday and Saturday in five provinces,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“They were caught hanging up posters with Islamic messages, which is unconstitutional,” the source said.
Supporters for candidates running in the June 11 elections for the Shura Council were detained when hanging up posters and handing out leaflets which read “Islam is the solution”, the Brotherhood’s slogan, the source said.
But constitutional amendments approved in March have banned any political activity based on religion.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch citing lawyers for the Brotherhood, 87 members were arrested between May 12 and May 19. Sixty-four came from districts where the group is fielding candidates.
“In the week that Egypt boasted about its election to the UN Human Rights Council, it was arresting scores of people solely for exercising their right to free association and free speech,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division.
On May 28, police arrested three candidates running as independents, but affiliated to the Brotherhood, from the Nile Delta town of Mit Ghamr, the rights group said.