Egyptian revolutionary groups demand release of jailed activists

Ahram Online, Tuesday 8 Apr 2014

On Monday, a court rejected the appeals of prominent activists Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Doma, and confirmed their three-year jail sentences for breaking the protest law and other charges

adel douma maher
Ahmed Doma (L) and Mohamed Adel (2nd R) are seen with Ahmed Maher (C), founder and former leader of the "April 6" movement, when Maher turned himself in at Abddein court in Cairo, November 30, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Political and revolutionary forces will hold a press conference on Tuesday to demand the release of jailed activists.

The liberal Constitution Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Popular Current and the Freedom for the Brave movement will attend the event at the Constitution Party headquarters.

On Monday, a court rejected the appeals of prominent activists Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Doma, and confirmed their three-year jail sentences and LE50,000 fines for breaking the protest law and other charges.

Tamarod, the youth group that spearheaded mass demonstrations against Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, dubbed the protest law “suspicious.”

Maha Abu Bakr, a leading member of the group, denounced the law for “violating well-established legal rules guaranteeing the right of peaceful protest.”

The protest law is contrary to the rights and freedoms enshrined in the new constitution passed in January, she added in comments made to Al-Ahram on Monday.

The law was issued in November 2013, mainly to quash ongoing demonstrations by supporters of Mohamed Morsi, who was toppled by the military in July amid mass protests against his rule. Many of these protests led to violent clashes between protesters and the police, leaving many dead. This raised many voices calling for the regulation of protests to avoid chaos.

The law drew criticism from local and international rights groups for restricting gatherings without three day's notice and for setting stiff penalties for violators.

“The only legal way out is for the president to issue a decree cancelling the law, which will retract all the rulings against protesters,” Abu Bakr suggested.

She said it would be better to leave the passage of such a law to an elected parliament.

“How can we apply such a law while there is no social justice? People have grievances, and economic and social problems. How can the state deprive them of the right to complain and peacefully protest while their demands haven't been fulfilled?” she added. “The state must adhere to the democratic path.”

The rejection of the activists' appeals comes ahead of a presidential election slated for 26-27 May. Former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is expected to win an overwhelming victory.

Hamdeen Sabahi, a Nasserist who intends to stand against El-Sisi, also denounced the ruling.

He called for an “immediate pardon” for the activists and for a revision of the protest law to ensure it guarantees the right to peaceful assembly.

“Young people were the ones who launched the dream. Freedom is the dream for which a whole generation is fighting,” Sabahi's campaign said in a statement on Monday.

The jailing of revolutionary figures for breaking the protest law is "unacceptable," the campaign added, and defies the spirit, values and goals of the 25 January and 30 June revolts.

It raises question marks about the current regime's commitment to rights and freedoms, it added.

Sabahi himself wrote on Twitter: “Egypt cannot detain those who revolted, while the corrupt and murderers are free.”

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