Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Egyptian security officials conducted a series of arrests last night in which 51 Muslim Brotherhood (MB) cadres have been detained. The arrests come three days after last Friday’s sweep and include MB affiliates from four Egyptian governorates: Dakahlia, Ismalia, Beni Suef and al Wadi al Gedid. Within the span of one week, 98 members of the organization have been detained.
Fourteen were arrested in Dakahlia; 17 in Ismalia, including Ahmed Ismail who ran in last June’s Shura Council reshuffle elections, in addition to 15 MB members in Beni Suef and five in Wad al Gedid.
Informed sources in the brotherhood have stated that they are expecting more arrests in the near future and cited the forthcoming Shura Council elections on 8 April as the reason. One source said, “The regime is afraid that the MB will repeat its victory, like the results of the 2005 People’s Assembly elections. This is why it resorts to arrests and security campaigns so as to stifle potential candidates in the local elections.”
Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak issued a decree yesterday calling upon voters to select their representatives in the upcoming Shura Council elections, in accordance with the law of practicing political rights and the system of local governance.
However, sources from the Muslim Brotherhood who agreed to speak to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity said that yesterday’s arrests included a number of officials working in administrative offices of the aforementioned provinces, such as Dr. Samir Salma, Ahmed Ismail, Dr. Ali Abdullah, Safwat Khalil, Mustafa Shalabi and Madi Abdek Tawwab.
The MB has yet to make a statement to declare its position with regards to its participation in the forthcoming elections. However, prominent activist in the MB leadership, Dr. Essam al Erian said it was unlikely that the party would be pressured into announcing its stance. He said, “The timing of the announcement belongs solely to the group and no one can coerce it into any action,” and added, “The decision will be announced at the time that the organization deems appropriate.”
The Egyptian Interior Ministry has issued warrants for the arrest of 18 MB members who were detained last Thursday at dawn in al Sharqiya governorate; however they were released by the prosecution last Friday.
For his part, Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Adul Moneim Abdul Maqsoud described the campaigns against the group as “the season for MB detention” and told Asharq Al-Awsat, “We expect these campaigns to intensify in the lead up to the elections in the coming few days, and they will also spread to other governorates throughout Egypt.”
He added that the recent events “are a message of intimidation to the group prior to the elections despite the fact that the MB has not yet announced its position with regards to the elections.” The lawyer disclosed that, “the accusations levelled against the detainees are rehashed, contrived and not based on any laws.”
In 2006, the People’s Assembly approved a controversial legislative amendment postponing municipal elections for two years, which many Muslim Brotherhood MPs stated was indicative of the government’s fear that one of the party members could qualify for presidential nomination. The government, however, said that the decision had to do with the fact that mid-term Shura Council elections were going to be held in May and that it was not viable to have two elections held in such a short period of time (one month apart).
Last year’s Shura Council elections did not hold any victories for the MB who did not win any seats on the council, which reduces their chances to field a candidate for the presidential elections in 2011.