Hundreds of activists and citizens around the world responded on Tuesday to the Free Alaa campaign to show solidarity with the prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah and to pressure for his release from prison.
The campaign, which was launched by Abdel-Fattah's family -- is being driven with the hashtag ‘Half his Sentence’ (Nos Elmoda/ #نص_المدة), which went viral on social media networks with testimonies, videos, and stories about him.
Activist Mona Seif, Alaa's sister, said in a Tuesday Skype interview with the Betawkeet Masr TV programme that the family was surprised with the amount of solidarity they had received since klaunching the campaign.
Abdel-Fattah is a blogger, programmer, and human rights activist who belongs to a prominent family of rights campaigners -- his father was the the late human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif; his mother is university professor and political activist Laila Suweif; and Alaa’s youngest sister Sanaa Seif, also a political activist, is currently serving a six-month prison sentence for insulting the judiciary.
Abdel-Fattah was arrested for his opposition work under former president Hosni Mubarak, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces 2011-2012, and interim president Adli Mansour 2013-2014.
Abdel-Fattah has completed half of his five-year jail sentence for breaking the November 2013 protest law, rioting and attacking a public employee on duty in the case known as Shura Council protest.
The case dates back to November 2013 when police broke up a ‘No to Military Trials’ protest in front of the now-defunct Shura Council to demand the 50-member committee then-tasked with writing Egypt's constitution vote down articles that allowed for military trials of civilians.
Tens were arrested during the protest and 22 defendants stood trial.
Alaa was charged with breaking the law only two days after the protest law was issued.
Other defendants in the case received three-year sentences.
In September last year, 18 of the 22 defendants in the Shura case were pardoned by a presidential decree. However, Abdel-Fattah - along with Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Abdel Rahman Koji, and Abdel Rahman Mocca - remained in jail.
In a separate trial, Abdel-Fattah is set to appear before court on 20 October on charges of insulting the judiciary.