Egyptian activist bloggers Alaa and Bahaa face military prosecution

Hatem Maher, Sunday 30 Oct 2011

Two prominent activists and bloggers are questioned by the military prosecution over their alleged incitement of the Maspero clashes earlier this month

Alaa Abd El-Fattah
Activist blogger Alaa Abd El-Fattah (Photo:

Activists Alaa Seif Abd El-Fattah and Bahaa Saber arrived at the offices of the military prosecution Sunday morning to face questioning over their alleged role in instigating the deadly Maspero clashes which left scores dead and injured earlier this month.

Both activists were due to be questioned last week but a hearing was delayed because Seif was in the US, where he spoke to American protesters taking part in the occupy wall street movement.

According to lawyer Nesma Zahran, a member in El Nadim Center for the Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, Seif and Saber are facing charges of inciting the downtown Cairo clashes between Coptic Christians protesting the torching of a church in upper Egypt and their Muslim supporters on one side, and the army and the police on the other.

At least 26 people were killed and dozens wounded in the army/police clampdown on the protesters on 9 October in front of the state TV headquarters (Maspero).

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) later expressed "regret" for the incident, but continued to try and put the blame for the violence on Coptic and secularist incitement.

Veteran political activists, both Seif and Saber were arrested in 2006 for criticising the former regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. Abd El-Fattah, along with his wife Manal Hassan, runs the well-known political blog ‘Manalaa.’ Possibly Egypt's most famous blogger, his Twitter account has over 45,000 followers.

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

Seif, @monasosh as she is known on Twitter, told Ahram Online that both activists arrived at C28 and are now waiting to be questioned.

"We are all happy with the solidarity that both Alaa and Bahaa are getting, but we also have to remember that there are another 28 civilians being tried for participating in the Mapero protests and more than 12,000 civilians have been tried and sentenced by military courts and they also need solidarity until they are retried." Seif is one of the founders of the ‘No to Military Trials’ campaign and is also Alaa’s younger sister.                                                 

The SCAF has been under fierce attack for referring around 12,000 civilians for trial before military courts after assuming power on 11 February following the ouster of Mubarak.

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