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Egypt Demonstrators protest continued military prosecution of activists

Two activists summoned by military prosecutors for inciting Maspero clashes between Copts and army; Protesters condemn ongoing practice of trying civilians in military courts

Ahram Online, Tuesday 25 Oct 2011
Alaa Abdel Fattah
Blogger Alaa Abd El-Fattah (Photo: Masry25.blogspot.com)
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Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Cairo’s infamous C28 military court on Tuesday to protest the military prosecution of three Egyptian political activists.

Activists Alaa Abd El-Fattah and Bahaa Saber were both summoned for questioning by military prosecutors on Monday to answer charges of “incitement to violence” during the 9 October clashes in Cairo’s Maspero district that left at least 26 people dead.

Since Abd El-Fattah is currently out of the country, however, questioning has reportedly been postponed to 30 October.

Veteran political activists, both Abd El-Fattah and Saber were arrested in 2006 for criticising the former regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. Abd El-Fattah, along with wife Manal Hassan, runs the well-known political blog ‘Manalaa.’

According to Egyptian human rights activist Mona Seif, military prosecutors claim to possess video footage proving that Abd El-Fattah and Saber had incited protesters to commit violent attacks against army personnel at the height of the Maspero clashes.

Meanwhile, the military prosecutor released activist Ali El-Halaby, a member of the April 6 protest movement, on bail Tuesday after detaining him for one week for drawing political graffiti in Nasr City, Cairo.

El-Halaby faces charges of vandalising public property and entering a restricted military zone.

Since Mubarak’s ouster in February, a number of journalists, bloggers, and political activists have been questioned by military prosecutors or faced military trials.

In May, activist blogger Hossam El-Hamalawy was quizzed by the army after he publicly accused military police of torturing political activists. And prominent April 6 activist Asmaa Mahfouz was questioned in July after allegedly “insulting” Egypt’s armed forces in a televised interview.

Since the revolution started on January 25th, Egyptian political forces across the spectrum have demanded an end to the practice of referring civilians to military courts.

According to local and international human rights groups, more than 12,000 civilians have been tried by military courts in the almost nine months since Mubarak’s ouster.

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