Egyptian police have detained three Muslim Brotherhood candidates running for the upcoming parliamentary elections and 28 supporters in the northeast of the country.
The arrests, the latest in a crackdown on Egypt’s largest opposition movement before this month’s elections, were made in the port city of Ismailia on Wednesday and Thursday.
“They were taken from their homes. The candidates were arrested on the street. They were arrested along with three lawyers on Wednesday,” Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud said on Thursday.
He added that police arrested 16 Brotherhood members in a suburb of the capital Cairo on Thursday.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s lawmakers, who run as independents, hold 88 seats in the 454-seat parliament.
Egypt’s largest opposition movement was founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The Brotherhood grew as a popular movement over the next 20 years, encompassing not only religion and education, but also politics, through the Party of the Muslim Brotherhood.
It blamed the Egyptian government for being passive against “Zionists” and joined the Palestinian side in the resistance against Israel.
The religious-political organization has been banned since 1954 but has continued to operate and is Egypt’s most powerful opposition movement.
The Brotherhood advocates the implementation of Islamic law but says it wants democratic reforms in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak has had a quarter-century of authoritarian rule.
The government accuses the group of seeking to take over the country and has passed a series of constitutional amendments in an attempt to further curtail the Brotherhood’s ability to participate in politics.