In a letter to President Hosni Mubarak made public today, Human Rights Watch protested the pattern of harassment and arrest of well-known members of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the largest opposition political forces in Egypt.

According to official reports, the charges against them included "spreading the group's ideas" and "attempting to infiltrate the country's professional associations." Many of the twenty arrested were elected officers of professional associations for engineers, lawyers, teachers, and veterinarians.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is a powerful political opposition group in Egypt," said Hanny Megally, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. "Its members should be allowed to participate fully in political life and the banning of the organization should be lifted."

Human Rights Watch called for the release of those detained, and said the Mubarak government should take steps to enlarge the political space in Egypt to include a diversity of peaceful political opinions.

For Further Information:
Hanny Megally 212-216-1230
Virginia N. Sherry 212-216-1231