Saturday, December 31, 2011

Egyptian Dissident Freed!
Alaa Abdel Fattah released from jail

Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah was released from prison on Christmas day. Fattah had been charged by the Egyptian military with inciting clashes between the Coptic Christians and the military at a demonstration outside Egypt’s State TV. Observers from human rights groups believe that the charges against Alaa were brought to hide the Egyptian military’s responsibility for the confrontation and to silence a vocal critic of Egypt’s military.

During Alaa’s 2 months imprisonment, his son was born. On December 28, Alaa described his detention and the state of the Egyptian revolution on Democracy Now. Alaa described being initially imprisoned for 5 days in a cell that was unsanitary and only being allowed 10 minutes a day to use the bathroom. He said that others who had been imprisoned in relation to the same incident had been tortured.

Alaa’s release follows several important developments in Egypt.

In November, the protests in Tahrir grew considerably. The activists demanded that the military immediately hand over power to a civilian government. A rival pro-military group of Egyptians organized to oppose the Tahrir activists. Chris Hays discussed these developments with an Egyptian journalist.

Mona Elthaway, an Egyptian-born American journalist, covered the November protests and was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted and detained by the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior and Military Intelligence. In an appearance on The Dylan Ratigan Show, Elthaway called for the end of US military aid to Egypt and for US companies to stop selling the Egyptian military weapons and teargas.  


All the while, Egypt has been voting for its parliament. The election takes place in a three part process that began November 28 and will extend into next year. Initial results show that the Islamists parties are winning by a dramatic margin with the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties winning close to 70 percent of the vote. Both groups have said that they will respect Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

In mid-December, Jihan Hafiz filed a report for The Real News showing plain clothed Egyptian soldiers thronging rocks at protestors. The report also stated, “The army, the police, and plain clothed thugs rushed into tahrir square, beating and arresting everyone in sight, destroying tents and make-shift clinics, and attacking both doctors and journalists.”

On December 29, the Egyptian military raided the offices of several human rights groups in Cairo including organizations funded by the US government; this lead to a critical response from the State Department.

Even though Alaa Abdul Fattah is now free, the Egyptian military continues its repression of Egyptian rights.  

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