Egyptian security forces detained more than 100 supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group in different cities on Friday, police and Brotherhood sources said.
The crackdown, a little more than a week ahead of Egypt’s parliamentary election due on November 28, followed a series of arrests since October after the Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest opposition group, announced it would participate in the vote.
Hamdy Hassan, spokesman for the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc, said that “certainly over 100 Brotherhood supporters were detained on Friday, and from different cities”.
“What happened today are not just assaults, it was more like war. Police fired at the crowds… Some people were injured,” Hassan said, adding that he had witnessed clashes in Alexandria.
According to police sources, about 200 people were detained in Nile Delta cities and places near Cairo while 24 more were detained in the coastal town of Alexandria, north of Cairo.
Egypt’s official state news agency MENA said about 30 were detained in Alexandria.
All those detained were engaged in public gatherings or were hanging election posters, police sources and MENA said.
Police sources and MENA said some people in the crowds threw rocks at security men and a few were injured.
The Brotherhood officially is banned but skirts the law by running candidates as independents. It controls a fifth of seats in parliament and has said it expects authorities to prevent it from securing an equivalent number in the November poll.
The group, and political analysts, have said the ruling party’s candidates are again expected to take a majority.
The vote will be closely watched to see how much space the government of President Hosni Mubarak, 82, who has been in power since 1981, allows to the opposition.
Brotherhood members and supporters frequently are detained, often for long periods and without charge. Amnesty International called on Egypt last month to release or charge members of the group who were recently detained.
The United States on Monday said Egypt should allow peaceful political gatherings, open media coverage and international observers in the run up to the parliamentary vote.
Photo: The Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohammed Badie. The Leader of Egypt’s biggest Islamic opposition movement accused President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling regime of trying to “take over elections and power exclusively and forever,” through fraud and saying that the lack of Mubarak’s party’s popularity is the reason behind rigging the vote. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)