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Cablegate: Mass Arrests of Muslim Brotherhood Members In

VZCZCXYZ0735
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #0448 0661025
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061025Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8438
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS CAIRO 000448

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR PASCUAL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM EG
SUBJECT: MASS ARRESTS OF MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MEMBERS IN
LEAD-UP TO LOCAL ELECTIONS

REF: CAIRO 389

1. (SBU) In the lead-up to Egypt's April 8 local council
elections (reftel), dozens of Muslim Brotherhood (MB)
activists are being arrested daily. An estimated 420-500 MB
members have been detained in the past four weeks alone,
mainly from cities across Egypt's Nile Delta, where popular
support of the Islamist group is high. MB leaders assert
that the government is targeting for arrest likely MB
candidates in the upcoming elections, as well as campaign
organizers and workers. Essam El Erian, a senior MB member,
told journalists that, "The aim of it all is to prevent them
(the MB) from entering the elections .... They don't want the
Brotherhood to stand as candidates." Embassy contacts who
are close to the MB have confirmed to us the MB's claim that
most of the detainees were either potential MB candidates in
the elections, or working on campaign organizing or "get out
the vote" efforts. Egyptian security officials have been
quoted in the press as saying that the detainees are accused
of belonging to an illegal group, possessing anti-government
literature, and organizing unauthorized meetings. (Note: The
MB is technically an illegal organization in Egypt, although
it holds twenty-percent of the seats in Egypt's People's
Assembly. End note).

2. (SBU) In addition to the arrests, the MB is facing other
hurdles in entering the local council elections. In order to
register as a candidate, formal registration paperwork must
be submitted to the local police station or local council
office, together with a copy of a potential candidate's
police record. To date, many MB-affiliated candidates have
complained that police officials are not providing their
police records, thereby making it impossible for them to
register as candidates. On March 5, one potential MB
candidate was reportedly beaten by "thugs" as he tried to
enter the registration office of a village near Zagazig, to
submit forms for his candidacy. Several MB detainees have
announced that they will attempt to run in the elections even
while imprisoned.

3. (SBU) We anticipate this wave of arrests to continue and
perhaps increase as the elections draw closer. Tensions are
high, as the ruling National Democratic Party strives to lay
the groundwork for a crushing victory on April 8, and the MB,
having taken the difficult decision to contest the elections,
seems determined to somehow register candidates and run,
despite the obvious high costs to the group and its members.
RICCIARDONE

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