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Egypt arrests Muslim Brotherhood members over protest plans

[JURIST] Over 100 Muslim Brotherhood [FAS backgrounder] members were detained by Egyptian police Sunday, continuing the ruling government's persecution of party members. According to a source from the Interior Ministry, these latest arrests were in response to planned demonstrations by members of the Muslim Brotherhood to protest Egypt's emergency laws. Emergency laws [EOHR backgrounder], first instituted in 1981, were enacted to fight terrorism and narcotics by granting power to the government to arrest anyone who appears to pose a threat to state security. Instead, the laws, which were renewed for another three years in June 2003, have been used by the government to repress political activities. The ruling party has promised [JURIST report] to replace the emergency laws with anti-terror legislation but has not provided a timeline for the project.

The Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned in Egypt [CSM report], so Brotherhood candidates run as independents, although their membership is well known. The Muslim Brotherhood boycotted the local elections in 2002, leaving the ruling National Democratic Party [official website, in English] in control of most localities. After the Muslim Brotherhood made a strong showing in parliamentary elections [JURIST news archive] last year, legislation backed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [official profile; BBC profile] was passed [JURIST report] to delay local elections in Egypt [JURIST news archive] for an another two years and preserve the ruling party's dominance. Reuters has more.

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