Egyptian police and security officers beat and detained participants in a May 11 rally near a Cairo courthouse where two reformist judges were to have appeared in disciplinary proceedings. There were also reports that plainclothes police harassed journalists covering the protests; journalists from Al Jazeera, Reuters, and Qatar national television said they were beaten and their equipment was smashed. Click here for more details. According to the Muslim Brotherhood, 300 people were arrested including some of its members, but security officials say only eight people were formally detained. Between April 24 and May 7, approximately 50 other activists were arrested for demonstrating in support of the judges. They face charges of “insulting the president, spreading false rumors, and disturbing public order.” Click here for more details.
Fifty members of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested for putting up posters and distributing leaflets protesting a two-year extension of the emergency law on April 30. The law allows indefinite detention without trial, permits trial of civilians in military courts, and limits freedom of speech and association by prohibiting gatherings of more than five people without permission. The law has been renewed every three years since its institution in 1981 after the assassination of President Hosni Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat. Mubarak and Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif have pledged that the emergency law will be replaced by a more specific counter terrorism law.
Commenting on the events, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said on May 11 that the United States was deeply concerned about the path of political reform and democracy in Egypt and considered these actions incongruous with the Egyptian government's professed commitment to increased political openness and dialogue. He called on the Egyptian government to allow peaceful demonstrations for reform and civil liberties. Click here to read the full statement.