Crackdown on Egypt’s Brotherhood personnel

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The Internet has proven to be one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s main means of attracting attention, but a government campaign to arrest its editors is making the organisation’s power to disseminate ideas a struggle.

English website editor-in-chief Khaled Hamza is behind bars while the Arabic site’s editor, Abdul Galil Al Sharnouby, has an arrest order for his detention, highlighting the difficulty of working with the banned opposition group.

Activists and rights groups have called for Hamza’s release and have condemned the Egyptian government’s decision to detain Al Sharnouby, saying that media professionals should not be harmed.

Police raided Al Sharnouby’s home at dawn Wednesday in an attempt to arrest the editor, who was not present at the time.

He then went directly to the Journalist’s Syndicate, where he is staging a sit-in in protest against his arrest order.

“The systematic police campaign against the media professionals of Muslim Brotherhood aims to disable them informatively in regards to (publicity) for their candidates running in the local elections, which would be held by next 8th of April,” the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said in a press release.

”This campaign involves detaining scores of brotherhood members without any legal proofs, just to prevent them from running in the elections,” it said.

Ahead of next month’s municipal elections, Egyptian security forces have been rounding up hundreds of members of the country’s most popular opposition group in an attempt to force them out of the race.

The group has said that despite the large number of arrests, it will not be pushed aside.

Local councils are seen as the ruling National Democratic Party’s stronghold, where they hold near unanimous representation.

The government postponed the local elections until this year, after the banned Brotherhood won a surprising 88 seats during the 2005 Parliamentary elections.

Analysts believe that the Brotherhood will win a large number of seats if the council polls were held under a full and open democratic process.

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