Egyptian actor arrested, labelled a thug by state television

Wael Eskandar, Friday 11 Mar 2011

Young Egyptian actor Aly Sobhy was arrested on 9 March, his photo shown on state TV labeling him a thug, to the outrage of his peers

Picture By Butheina Shalan

Egyptian actor Aly Sobhy was arrested 9 March 2011 and is being detained by the military.

Sobhy was in Tahrir Square just outside the Egyptian Museum when the military and armed civilians attacked the square. He was arrested outside the museum when he decided to protest other arrests.

Sobhy is being held in a military prison in Hikestep and may face trial in a military court.

Sobhy is a founding member of the team Hala and acted in the Egyptian series Ahl Cairo (People of Cairo) and many other plays. He is interested in street theatre and is also a member of Clowns without Borders.

He more recently was involved in Tamer El-Saeed’s first film The Last Days of the City; art director Salah Marei’s last. He stars alongside international actor Khaled Abdalla (The Kite Runner, Green Zone) who acts in and produces the movie.

“I’ve known Aly for three years now,” says Khaled Abdalla. “He’s full of life. He’s a wonderful comedic actor.”

“We were together during the protests in Tahrir Square. He’s someone who loves his country and he fights for freedom and social justice. He’s a peaceful protester, he’s always been. He’s always been someone who cares about his rights and justice,” says Abdalla.

Egyptian state TV put up Sobhy’s photo and with the label ‘thug’. His arrest has disturbed many of his peers.

Young actress Niveen El-Tony says, “Aly is a talented artist, he’s not a thug.” “He has never been violent, he’s a man of principle and he’s very respectable,” she adds.

“I’m shocked, I’m saddened and I’m hurt. It’s a big question mark over anyone who’s been taken and accused of being a thug,” says Abdalla. “It may turn out to be another case of injustice like that of Amr Abdalla El-Beheiry.”

Amr El-Beheiry was sentenced to five years in prison on 1 March, less than three days after his arrest. Eyewitness testimony maintains that Beheiry was falsely accused. The arrest of Aly Sobhy raises concerns about the recent decision to have those charged with thuggery face execution.

In a note written on Facebook on 27 January, as his last will and testimony, Sobhy wrote, “I discovered that at any time I can be shot with a bullet in the head or I can be beaten to death so I decided to write my will.”

He urged people to go to the streets and demand their rights. “I never imagined that I would go to the streets knowing full well I could be killed at any moment.”

Sobhy’s fate is yet to be determined by the military prosecution.

In his will, Sobhy wrote, “People need to understand that nothing will change without sacrifice.”

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