The crackdown has taken place ahead of the general conference by
Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party in early November. The conference
was the first since 2002 and meant to introduce counter-insurgency
legislation. NDP has been battling the Brotherhood to select the next
speaker of Egypt's parliament.
"With an eye to the future, NDP aims to strengthen democracy and the
rights of all citizens in Egypt," said Mohammed Kamal, secretary of the
NDP's political education and training. "At all levels of government -- from
municipal to national -- delegates will be working to reinforce the building
blocks of our civil society, our constitutional amendments, so we might
elevate Egypt and its people to the global stage."
Officials said the Muslim Brotherhood, reported to number 200,000, has
been preparing for a violent confrontation with the Mubarak regime. They
said at least 200 MB members remain in prison.
At one point, at least five of the 12 members of the Brotherhood's Shura
Council were imprisoned. Later, Egypt released two of the Islamic leaders
amid concerns over their health.
"We may absorb a kick, but we will come back more powerful," Issam
Arian, head of the Brotherhood's political division, said. Arian was
released by Egyptian authorities in early October.
Egypt has also arrested two parliamentarians linked to the Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood controls about 20 percent of Egypt's 444-member parliament.
A key arrest was that of suspected Brotherhood financier Kheirat Shater,
regarded as the No. 3 member in the movement. Shater and 39 other
Brotherhood members were charged with money-laundering and financing a
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said the arrests appeared to
comprise a "broad crackdown on Egyptian rights activists, journalists and
other government critics." The U.S. group cited an order to close the
Association for Human Rights Legal Aid, a group that assists torture
victims, as well as the sentencing of journalists and bloggers.
The opposition has charged the Mubarak regime with violating civil
rights and Egyptian law. The sources said Mubarak has ordered Brotherhood
members tried in military courts after many of them were found not guilty by
The Brotherhood has been accused of helping spark the largest labor
unrest in Egypt since the 1950s. In the city of Mahalla El Kobra, thousands
of employees of the privatized Misr Spinning and Weaving Factory have gone
on strike to protest low wages and soaring inflation.