Egyptian liberal opposition figure angered at airport detention

Ahram Online , Sunday 12 May 2013

Former MP Emad Gad blasts Egypt's government for targeting political activists following his arrest along with a female journalist at Cairo airport on Wednesday

Opposition figure Emad Gad criticised attempts by Egyptian authorities to arrest him at Cairo International Airport on Wednesday.

Gad, who is a former MP and leading member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said that he, along with 78-year-old journalist and Tagammu Party activist Amina Shafiq, had been stopped at the airport, ostensibly as their names were similar to those of “terrorists.”

Gad said their passports were also referred to the national security bureau, Ahram’s Arabic news website reported, although the matter was subsequently dropped by security officials.

An official at the airport said there might have been similarities between Gad and Shafiq’s names and those of suspects on travel ban lists, state-run news agency MENA reported.

The opposition leader criticised the incident, describing it as part of an attempt by the ruling regime to target the revolutionary youth and opposition figures.

Gad argued that recurrent arrests of political activists and the subsequent intervention for their release by the presidency is a systematic process.

"This is meant to portray the regime as pro-revolution, as well as to distance it from practices used by security services against political figures and young activists," Ahram Arabic news website quoted Gad as saying.

"It's the first time such a thing happened [to me] in 25 years of travelling."

On Friday, April 6 Youth Movement founder Ahmed Maher was arrested upon his arrival at Cairo’s airport and detained for four days.

Maher, who has been critical of the Islamist regime, was released Saturday on the order of a state prosecutor.

He was interrogated over demonstrations outside the interior minister's Cairo residence in March. 

Maher is set to discuss more details of his arrest on Monday at a press conference.

Critics accuse Morsi’s government of using such arrests to intimidate its opponents.

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