Monday, October 31, 2011

Egyptian army detains prominent blogger

Alaa Seif Abdel Fattah (Photo Hossam al-Hamalawy)

Egyptian military prosecutors have ordered the prominent Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah  to be detained for 15 days and another bailed pending investigations into accusations that they incited violence. Alaa was detained in court on Sunday after refusing to be interrogated by a military prosecutor. His co-defendant, Bahaa Saber, was allowed to post bail.
Mona Seif, Abd El Fattah's sister, told Al Jazeera that he was detained after both activists had refused to answer the army prosecutor's questions. "He was arrested because the military are trying to find someone else to blame for the massacre that happened on the ninth of October," she said."The truth is that we are actually accusing the military of causing the deaths of at least 27 people and the wounds of more than 100 peaceful protesters."
She was referring to teh massacre that happened during the protest of Mainly Christians on 9 Octber at Maspero.Alaaa Abdel Fattah told Reuters on his way to the prosecutor that the army is trying to blame him and others for what happened at Maspero. ''They committed a massacre, a horrible crime and now they are working on framing someone else for it. This whole situation is distorted. Instead of launching a proper investigation, they are sending activists to trial for saying the plain truth and that is that the army committed a crime in cold blood," he said, adding the military was using the "incitement" card to shift the blame away from its own officers.''
Al Ahram on line published a portrait of Alaa from which I take the following: 
Abdel Fattah is considered one of Egypt’s pioneer bloggers, along with his wife, Manal Hussein. Since 2004, both have been publishing their political opinions in well-known blog Originally, as a software developer and activist, Abdel Fattah has supported initiatives that promote social media, freedom of expression and political activism. In 2005, Alaa and Manal won the Special Reporters without Borders Award in Deutsche Welle's Best Blogs competition.
It is not the first time Abdel Fattah finds himself facing allegations by the state. In May 2006, he was arrested while participating in a peaceful protest in solidarity with Egypt’s free judiciary movement. His arrest caused an international uproar, as it was seen as an attempt to crack down on blogging activity in Egypt by targeting one of its most influential bloggers.
Born in 1981, Abdel Fattah was brought up in a family of leftists with a long history of political activism. His father, Ahmed Seif El-Islam Hamed, is a prominent lawyer and human rights activist who used to run the Cairo-based Hisham Mubarak Law Centre. Ahmed Seif El-Islam was arrested in the 1980s and imprisoned for five years for his political activity. Abdel Fattah’s mother, Laila Soueif, is a professor of mathematics at Cairo University, while his aunt is Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian novelist of international renown. Alaa’s sister, Mona Seif, meanwhile, is one of the founders of the “No to military trials for civilians” campaign. Abdel Fattah’s wife, Manal, also comes from a family with a long activist pedigree. Manal’s father is Bahi El-Din Hassan, a founder of Egypt’s contemporary human rights movement and current head of the Cairo Centre for Human Rights Studies. The couple moved to South Africa in 2008, but returned to join the Tahrir protests in January.

PS I forgot to give a link to Arabist's blog, for a translation  of  a beautiful piece by Alaa, one of his last. Here it is.

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