Egyptian Interior Minister Habib al-Adly warned the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) opposition movement on Monday that police would prevent the group's candidates from using religious slogans in their electoral campaigns in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for 29 November.
“The MB is fielding its candidates as independents," al-Adly told the official MENA news agency. "But if any of them run as MB members, the law will be enforced. They are a disbanded group that has been prohibited from engaging in any political activity."
"If any brotherhood candidate commits an act punishable by law or against campaign regulations, such as the use of religious or sectarian slogans, immediate action will be taken by the relevant authorities," the minister added. He failed to specify, however, whether the "action" in question would include disqualifying the group's candidates from the elections.
In 2008, Egypt's parliament approved a legal amendment prohibiting the use of religious slogans in general elections, in a move seen by experts as specifically targeting the MB, which frequently uses "Islam is the solution" as a campaign slogan.
Al-Adly's comments are the latest indication that MB nominees would face some electoral obstacles, especially after a number of ruling party officials recently declared that the group would fail to win a significant number of parliamentary seats.
According to experts, the Egyptian government will likely resort to harassing MB candidates in an effort to erode the gains achieved by the group in 2005 parliamentary elections, when the MB managed to capture roughly 20 percent of the seats in the assembly. Many experts also believe that the weak performance of brotherhood MPs over the last five years would adversely affect the group in upcoming elections.
Meanwhile, the MB has yet to announce its official position regarding its participation in the parliamentary races. However, recent statements by some group members indicate that the brotherhood plans to field 250 candidates to compete for 518 parliamentary seats.
In 2008, an Egyptian administrative court threw out a request to bar eight MB candidates from running in elections for seats in the Shura Council, the consultative house of Egypt's parliament.