(Women line up waiting to cast their vote at a polling station in Cairo May 23, 2012.REUTERS/Mohammed Salem )

The head of Egypt’s state council for women has accused resurgent Islamists of seeking to roll back female rights on such issues as divorce and custody and undermine the council as a discredited remnant of the Hosni Mubarak era.

“They are trying to take away rights that women attained in compliance with Islamic sharia,” said Mervat Tallawy, head of the National Council for Women, adding that criticism of the council was an attempt to erode female rights.

The Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) dominates parliament, has dismissed the council as an institution that was “a weapon of the former regime to break up and destroy families” in a statement on its website.

Association with ousted leader Mubarak and his first lady Suzanne, an outspoken but disputed advocate of their cause, has made it harder for women’s rights campaigners to counter what they see as a threat from newly empowered Islamists.