Fifteen members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested in Alexandria, a leader of the group said Monday, accusing the authorities of trying to stop them taking part in upcoming elections.
The arrests took place last Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, local Brotherhood leader Ali Abdel Fattah told AFP by telephone from the Mediterranean city.
The attorney general decided Monday to place eight of the 15 under two weeks' detention "for the needs of the Enquirer," Egypt's state-owned MENA news agency reported without specifying what had happened to the other seven.
The eight have been accused of belonging to an illegal organization and "spreading the movement's ideas which aim at endangering security and disturbing the peace," MENA said.
Abdel Fattah meanwhile said the other seven people arrested were still in detention and were "waiting to be accused of the same charges as their comrades" later Monday.
He said five of those arrested were being detained in Torah prison south of Cairo while the remaining 10 were in Al-Hadara prison in Alexandria.
"This latest haul aims at hindering our participation in legislative elections" which open on October 18, Abdel Fattah said.
Arrests and releases of members of the banned but partly tolerated Muslim Brotherhood have increased in recent months.
"It's a message to muzzle us and make us afraid," Abdel Fattah said. "The authorities want to dissuade us from exercising our civic rights and stop us from standing for parliament."
Many members of the movement, who cannot stand on a Brotherhood ticket, have decided to stand as independents.
The Brotherhood, founded in 1929, is accused of encouraging violence, although the group says publicly it is seeking to establish an Islamic state through peaceful means.
Observers say the movement represents the main force of opposition to President Hosni Mubarak – CAIRO (AFP)
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