- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian security forces on Tuesday detained 57 campaign workers from the opposition Muslim Brotherhood while hanging election posters in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria ahead of next month’s parliamentary vote.

Hussein Ibrahim, a Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker and a candidate, said most arrests took place in the early morning as campaigners were putting up posters for one of the Islamist group’s female candidates.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the group’s workers violated the election law banning the use of religious slogans.

“This is the beginning of a blatant election fraud since the ruling party candidates’ posters were left untouched although they contained full verses of the Quran (Islam’s holy book),” Mr. Ibrahim said.

The Egyptian Electoral Committee’s ban on the use of religious slogans forced the group to temporarily abandon its longtime “Islam Is the Solution” slogan and come up with substitutes such as “Change Is Our Path.”

Mr. Ibrahim said the posters in question only said “God is great” and “Thank God.”

Tuesday’s arrests bring to about 250 the number of Brotherhood members detained since the group announced Oct. 9 its decision to contest the vote. Brotherhood candidates are contesting up to 30 percent of the 508 parliamentary seats up for grabs in the Nov. 28 vote, ignoring calls by other opposition groups to boycott the election.

Alexandria, a Brotherhood stronghold, promises to see one of the most heated election contests.

Two government ministers — Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mufid Shehab and Mohammed Abdel-Salam Mahgoub, state minister for local development and a former Alexandria governor — lead the ruling party’s slate, while the Muslim Brotherhood has fielded nine candidates, including one woman.

The Brotherhood has been outlawed since 1954 but gets around that by fielding its candidates as independents.

The outgoing parliament is dominated by President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, or NDP.

Beside the NDP and the Brotherhood, three opposition parties are contesting the vote.

The election for the first time will introduce women-only electoral districts — 32 nationwide — to ensure that women fill 12 percent of seats in the new legislature.

Elections in Egypt are routinely marred by widespread fraud and low turnout, although the government routinely pledges a fair and clean vote. It rejects calls for international supervision, arguing that such a move will infringe on its sovereignty.

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