The Egyptian government again has imprisoned Ayman Nur, leader of the opposition Ghad Party. Hundreds of other political activists, mainly from the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood party, also have been arrested.
In the last four weeks of parliamentary elections and run-off votes in Egypt, one man was shot to death in a clash with police. And poll monitors and journalists were beaten.
The United States has officially condemned the electoral violence.
"Clearly these actions send the wrong signal about Egypt’s commitment to democracy and freedom," Adam Ereli, a deputy U.S. State Department spokesman, said yesterday.
Repressive round-up. Egyptian security forces have been targeting the Muslim Brotherhood in particular. At least 69 Brotherhood members were arrested just yesterday. The mass arrests have come at a time when Brotherhood candidates, running as independents, have been winning seats in parliament. The elections will conclude today.
"The aim is to terrorize voters and stir anxiety and tension," Badr Mohamed Badr, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, said.
Democrats everywhere have been encouraged by the fact that, in these recent Egyptian elections, candidates have run from outside the National Democratic Party, the ruling party of semi-dictator Hosni Mubarak. Allowing challengers has been an excellent development. (Let’s see it in Cuba or North Korea or Syria or Saudi Arabia or China.)
Unwilling to share. By winning nearly 100 seats, the Muslim Brotherhood has relatively little power in the 444-seat elected parliament. But Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which controls every facet of government, including the police, has been abusing its power to make sure the Brotherhood’s parliamentary presence doesn’t grow too big.
Mubarak is making a mistake. The more he abuses the Muslim Brotherhood, the more popular and more radical it will become. It’s time to let all Egyptians share in Egypt’s political life. It’s time for freedom. And it’s good the United States is making the point.