Egypt: Government threatens to arrest more militants

Alexandria, 2 April(AKI) - Egypt has threatened to arrest more Islamist militants from the Muslim Brotherhood after hundreds of the organisation's members held demonstrations in northern Egypt.

Nine Brotherhood members were arrested on Tuesday, four in the town of Tanta, as protesters accused the government of preventing them from participating in forthcoming elections. The organisation said 11 members were injured.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an international Sunni Islamist movement and the world's largest, most influential political Islamist group.

According to the Arab TV network, Al-Jazeera, Egypt's interior minister, Habib al-Adli, threatened new arrests on Wednesday if the protests resumed.

But the arrests have been criticised by the White House and several international human rights organisations.

Nearly 3,000 members of the organisation reportedly protested in Zagazig, northeast of Cairo, while 2,000 demonstrated in the port city of Alexandria and 1,500 marched at Damanhur in the Nile Delta.

The government postponed the 2006 local elections for two years, after the Brotherhood unexpectedly won 88 seats in the 454-member parliament in 2005.

Al-Jazeera said since registration started on 4 March, thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood's candidates have been stopped from registering for the local council elections, scheduled for 8 April.

Later the group won lawsuits reversing these decisions, but the government has refused to implement the verdicts.

The Brotherhood, considered the most powerful opposition group in Egypt, has been banned in Egypt since 1954 but its members have won parliamentary seats by running as independents in elections.

In recent weeks Egypt has conducted a major crackdown on the Brotherhood, arresting more than 800 of the group's members, many of them election candidates.


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