Egypt Muslim Brotherhood says more than 1,000 arrested

Image caption,
Egypt's security forces have been trying to prevent rallies in favour of the group

The main opposition group in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, says more than 1,000 of its members - including eight parliamentary candidates - have been detained ahead of elections next week.

Supporters of the banned group have clashed with security forces in several cities in recent days.

Amnesty International has accused the Egyptian authorities of harassing opposition activists before the vote.

The government says the group breaks the law by using religious slogans.

Although the group is banned from putting up candidates, Muslim Brotherhood members have been elected to parliament as independent candidates, and it controls about a fifth of the seats.

Trouble has broken out at a number of rallies for these candidates, when the security forces tried to prevent crowds expressing their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, says the BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo.

According to the police chief in the northern city of Alexandria, 50 trucks of riot police used tear gas to break up one rally of around 2,000 supporters of the brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood accuses the government of already engaging in election fraud.

One candidate, Gamal Shehata, said the authorities were trying to intimidate his group's supporters.

"From what I see, the regime is trying to intimidate and terrorise the population from supporting us... It's clear to the whole world that restraints are being put on Egyptian opposition groups, whether the Muslim Brotherhood or independent opposition groups who openly express their disdain for the system."

Human rights group Amnesty International has called on the authorities not to prevent Egyptians from casting their votes, as happened at a number of polling stations in the last parliamentary elections in 2005.

President Hosni Mubarak, 82, has led Egypt for 29 years, but has not yet said whether or not he will stand for a sixth term.

His governing National Democratic Party (NDP) dominates parliament.

Muslim Brotherhood candidates are standing in a third of the 508 seats up for grabs in the poll, despite calls by other opposition groups for a boycott.

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