Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Rights groups claim Egyptian authorities assault voters, journalists at polls | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – Two human rights groups demanded Egyptian authorities investigate violence that marred the final stage of this country”s parliamentary elections, which saw police attack and open fire on voters to stop them from casting ballots while harassing journalists.

The three-stage elections were among Egypt”s most violent ever, resulting in at least 10 deaths and scores of injures since polling opened Nov. 9 and ended Wednesday.

Strong performances from the banned Muslim Brotherhood, which increased its number of seats almost six-fold from 15 to 88, were believed to have been behind polling station crackdowns.

London-based Amnesty International issued a statement late Friday demanding an inquiry into the deaths of at least eight people and injuries to many others during Wednesday”s last round of voting.

Amnesty demanded Egypt”s government &#34launch an urgent, independent investigation into police shootings outside polling stations,&#34 adding the inquiry must focus on &#34the circumstances in which police used lethal fire.&#34

The Paris-based press watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, also demanded Egyptian authorities punish those responsible for &#34intolerable&#34 harassment and attacks on more than 50 journalists.

&#34It”s utterly unacceptable that so many journalists and media technicians were harassed, intimidated or beaten just because they were doing their work,&#34 the group said in its statement.

The group cited names of journalists and media organizations were attacked while covering the elections, including an Associated Press photographer who was &#34hospitalized after being hit by a stone in the eye.&#34

Egypt”s Interior Ministry has said police were protecting the stations and helping voters reach the ballot box, as well as accusing Brotherhood supporters of inciting previous violence.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which calls for implementing Islamic law but is vague about what that means, now holds 20 percent of parliament”s 454 seats, while the ruling National Democratic Party of President Hosni Mubarak retained its majority with 333 seats, or 73 percent of parliament, compared to the 398 it held previously.