Prominent Egypt blogger Alaa Abdel El Fattah was arrested on October 30, 2011 on fabricated charges of inciting violence against the military during the October 9 Maspero demonstrations. Alaa rightly refused to recognise the legitimacy of his military interrogators and has been in prison since then. During this time, his wife Manal Hassan, an equally prominent blogger and activist, has given birth to their son Khaled, named after young Egyptian Khaled Said who was violently beaten to death on June6, 2010 by Egyptian policemen. While Khaled Said’s death symbolized the brutality of Mubarak’s police state, Alaa’s incarceration is a stark reminder that Egypt still needs a revolution against the military junta that replaced Mubarak. Egyptian activists have set up the Campaign to End the Military Trials of Civilians which aims to abolish the military trials of civilians as a key requirement of freedom and democracy.
On December 19, 2011, the campaign published a letter from Alaa smuggled out of his prison cell on seeing his son for the first time. Here are the first few paragraphs.
Fate chose that my imprisonment should be connected to the civil judiciary: I was imprisoned in 2006 with fifty comrades from Kefaya movement and untold hundreds of the Muslim Brotherhood because of our solidarity with the intifada of the judiciary against Mubarak and his regime. We protested for the independence of the judiciary and their complete supervision of the elections, and so were imprisoned by the State Security Prosecutor for a month and a half. Continue Reading
And now, in the era of the revolution I was imprisoned by the military prosecutor as a punishment for insisting on appearing before a civil judge. And perhaps also as a punishment for my role in the events of Maspero, which was also connected to the civil judiciary: our stand in the Coptic Hospital to ensure a serious investigation by the pubic prosecutor and our insistence on genuine autopsies by the coroner. This stand was the reason my name was listed in the files of the police and military intelligence.
With the killing of new martyrs in Tahrir we gained a victory in the Maspero case. But it is a victory with a Ganzouri taste. It’s true that the case was referred to the civil courts but instead of standing in front of an independent investigating judge I find myself once more in front of the higher state security prosecutor.
In the era of the deposed we used to refuse being tried by state security prosecution because it is an exceptional judiciary. But in the era of Ganzouri we agreed to it on the basis that the exceptional civil is better than the exceptional military. And because it was a Ganzouri victory I did not rejoice. In fact I came back from the prosecutor in a miserable state. I spent my most difficult week in jail because what had gone before had been a struggle and a stand against military trials, and struggle inspires patience and makes resilience easy. But what was the meaning of my continued imprisonment after the case was referred? What’s the aim of my resilience?