An Egyptian court on Friday sentenced 11 members of an opposition party to two years in prison for campaigning on behalf of the banned Muslim Brotherhood [official website; JURIST news archive]. The eleven were found guilty of taking part in election demonstrations [AFP report] and campaigning for Muslim Brotherhood using leaflets that contained religious slogans. On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] expressed concern regarding the crackdown of opposition parties [press release] ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections. The Egyptian government passed constitutional amendments in 2007 that have severely limited independent judicial supervision. Muslim Brotherhood members are contesting for 30 percent of the seats in the People's Assembly as independents. Abdelmoneim Maqsud, Muslim Brotherhood's chief lawyer, told HRW that security forces have arrested 1,306 members, and have brought 702 members before prosecutors.
The Muslim Brotherhood has previously been targeted by the Egyptian government. In April, Attorney General Abdul Magid Mahmoud announced that five international MB members will be tried in an Egyptian criminal court [JURIST report] on charges of money laundering. Egypt has also used the emergency laws extensively against other opposition parties. In July 2009, the trial of 26 individuals with alleged ties to Hezbollah was transferred to a court [JURIST report] established under the emergency laws. In February 2009, a military court utilized the laws during a trial in which it sentenced [JURIST report] opposition leader Magdy Ahmed Hussein to two years in prison. The emergency laws have been in effect continuously since the 1981 assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and were renewed [JURIST report] most recently in May.