CAIRO — Egyptian security forces arrested a prominent political activist Thursday night over inciting a demonstration in defiance of a new law heavily restricting protests in the country, his family said.
The arrest of Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a blogger
who rose to prominence in Egypt’s 2011 revolution, quickly dominated social media. His previous detention sparked protests against the military, which appeared likely again as recently quiet liberal and secular groups have expressed increasing alarm over the military-backed government since it enacted the new protest law this week.
Prominent Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah was arrested in his home at approximately 10pm on Thursday, November 28. An arrest warrant was issued for Abd El Fattah this past Tuesday, following violent dispersal of protestors in Cairo. Theblogger’s father told local media he believed the arrest was made under a new laweffectively banning street protest in Egypt. At least 51 people were arrested that day, among them several prominent activists. Many were beaten and sexually harrassed.
Alaa was taken by police despite having declared that he’d deliver himself to the police on Saturday, according to a statement he made and that his aunt, renowned Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif, posted on Facebook.
Alaa Abd El-Fattah (Arabic: علاء أحمد سيف عبد الفتاح, IPA: [ʕæˈlæːʔ ˈæħmæd ˈseːf ʕæbdelfatˈtæːħ]; also presented in English as Alaa Abdel Fattah) is an Egyptian blogger, software developer, and political activist. He is known for co-founding along with his wife Manal Hassan, daughter of activist Bahi El-Din Hassan, the Egyptian blog aggregator “Manalaa” and “Omraneya”, the first Arab blog aggregators that did not restrict inclusion based on the content of the blog. In 2005 the “Manalaa” blog won the Special Reporters Without Borders Award in Deutsche Welle‘s Best of Blogs competition. He has been active in developing Arabic-language versions of important software and platforms.
Egypt’s prosecutor general has ordered a four-day detention for 24 activists arrested during protests against a new law criminalizing demonstrations without permit, media reports say.
The detained activists were accused of violating the controversial law by not obtaining a permit from the Interior Ministry, by “using force,” and by carrying knives and resisting police, according to Egyptian state news agency MENA on Wednesday.
Cairo also issued arrest warrants for two well-known activists wanted for inciting demonstrators to organize the protest.
Authorities are seeking to detain Ahmad Maher, the founder of the April 6 movement against former dictator Hosni Mubarak that led to 2011 revolution in the country, and Alaa Abdel Fattah, a prominent activist.
On Tuesday, security forces used water cannons to disperse demonstrators protesting outside the upper house of the parliament in Cairo.
The demonstrators denounced a proposed constitutional amendment allowing military courts to try civilians.
Egypt enacted a controversial new protest law on November 24, under which the gatherings of more than 10 people require a written permit three days prior to the protest.
The controversial anti-protest law authorizes the security forces to use tear gas, water cannons, smoke grenades, warning shots, rubber bullets, and even live ammunition against unauthorized demonstrators after issuing warnings.
Cairo’s crackdown on protesters has drawn criticism from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay as well as the leading human rights group, Amnesty International.
Tensions in the North African country have been running high since the first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted following a “military coup” early in July. Hundreds have lost their lives in the ensuing violence across the country.