Brotherhood arrests are ‘tactic in Egypt poll’
|Thursday, February 11,2010 12:28|
|By Nadia abou el-Magd, Foreign Correspondent|
CAIRO // The lawyer for senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood arrested on Monday has described the dawn raids as a pre-emptive strike against the Islamist group ahead of upcoming elections.
Those arrested included the group’s deputy leader, Mahmoud Ezzat, 65, known as the “iron man” and “the king maker”, who is believed to be behind the rise of Mr Badie.
The raids came as no surprise to Brotherhood members and observers in Egypt and many expect more arrests in the run up to elections for the Egyptian parliament’s Upper House, or Shura Council in April and legislative elections later this year.
While Brotherhood members managed to grab 20 per cent of seats in the parliament in 2005, the constitution has since been amended to make it almost impossible for candidates belonging to the group to run.
“It’s a pre-emptive strike against the Brotherhood in general and a message to all its leaders from different generations in different provinces, that the state will continue to root it out,” he added.
The message added: “The Muslim Brotherhood emphasises that these arrests won’t make them change the path it has chosen for the nation’s progress, and it will carry on its struggle through all possible peaceful means to achieve freedom, confront corruption and combat despotism.”
The conciliatory speech of Mr Badie on January 16, when he was announced as the eighth leader of the group, has not appeared to ease tensions with the state, which considers the group, founded in 1928, to be its arch enemy.
The group said that about 5,000 of its members were arrested last year. Most of them have been released. Several leaders of the group are serving up to 10 years in prison for membership in an outlawed group that seeks to overthrow the government after a military case and trial that started in late 2006. The case was seen by many as retaliation for the group’s stunning victory in the 2005 elections
Despite being officially banned since 1954, the group, which renounced violence in the 1970s, has hundreds of thousands of members and supporters across Egypt and abroad.
As such, the Brotherhood is not expected to win more than five seats in this year’s elections. In 2008, they were unable to win any seats in the Shura Council elections.
“That’s why we survive and we always have new leaders, as we won’t give up our legitimate demand of peaceful reform, and we use election times to increase people’s awareness of their rights, amid illiteracy in general and political illiteracy in particular.”
“No co-operation, no alliances and no green light that would allow the group to regain its social and political power.”