[JURIST] The Egyptian Parliament [official website] Wednesday deprived two Muslim Brotherhood [party website; FAS backgrounder] lawmakers of their official immunity. Under Egyptian law, legislators enjoy immunity from prosecution unless the parliament votes to remove it. Sabri Amer and Ragab Abu Zeid were the first Brotherhood members to lose immunity since the 2005 election; Zeid labeled the decision as a government-orchestrated attempt to intimidate the Brotherhood. Both men were briefly detained [AP report] by authorities last month.
The Brotherhood has been banned since 1954, but has grown into Egypt's most powerful opposition movement, holding 88 seats in the 454-seat parliament. Egyptian police arrested 31 Brotherhood members in June 2006 and an additional 72 members [JURIST reports] in February 2007. Over 700 Brotherhood members are believed to be in police custody. The government accuses the organization of trying to create an Islamic theocracy, but the Brotherhood claims the crackdown was meant to quell opposition to constitutional amendments [JURIST report] proposed by Mubarak last year. The amendments passed [JURIST report] by referendum in March. AP has more.