Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The 30-day Dance

More than a dozen members of the Muslim Brothers have been arrested over the past four days, indicating another crackdown on the largest political opposition group in Egypt.

Thus starts a peculiar and tragic dance under the spell of the State of Emergency legislation. It's a typical form of Egyptian harassment, designed to ensure a whiff of legality to blatant authoritarian activity. The prosecutors hold the political opponents for 30 days without charges. That detention can be renewed an unlimited amount of time. Often the prisoners are unaware of the status of their case. On a few occasions, the prisoners aren't even released even in the rare situations in which the courts order their release.

This can gone on for a long time. In the case of Amnesty International-adopted prisoners such as lawyer
Abd al-Mun‘im Mohammad al-Srougi, he has been detained since 1990 without any charge at all. In other cases, such as Gihan Ibrahim 'Abd al-Hamid, held for three years on suspicion of being a member of the Islamic Group, she found herself suddenly in an unfair trial without any recourse to an adequate defense.

That's why before there's any serious talk of reform in Egypt, I want to see the government end the State of Emergency. If the 30-day Dance ends, that will be one important sign that real reform is here.

Here's the report on the MB arrests from the Middle East Times:

"Egypt arrested five more members of the Muslim Brotherhood on March 5, a security source said, as the government continued its crackdown on the country's main opposition group. Security forces picked up the five in Giza, near the capital, and Ismailiya, northeast of Cairo, just a day after the banned-but-tolerated group announced the arrest of 11 of its members.

State security prosecution on March 5 charged them with plotting to "revive the group's activities" and ordered that they be detained for 15 days pending further investigations, judicial sources said. The Brotherhood, which fielded candidates as independents in legislative polls last year, won a record number of seats in parliament, taking 88 of the 454 seats up for grabs."


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