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Egypt: Bloggers Arrested in Anti-Government Rally

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Egypt is at it again and amid little or next to no coverage in the mainstream media, its dynamic bloggers are living up to their reputation of being true citizen journalists, giving us a minute by minute break down of developments on the ground.

According to Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdulfattah, two bloggers were among more than 20 people arrested for taking part in an anti-government rally called for by opposition movement Kefaya to protest against Constitutional amendments which will allegedly give the ruling party more power.

أنا لسه هربان من مظاهرة التحرير دلوقتي، الأمن هجم بعنف و اتفتت المظاهرة لثلاث مجموعات على الأقل و بعدها بدأوا في اختطاف الشباب المتظاهرين
قدام عيني قبضوا على بهاء صابر و أربعة أخرين
محمد عادل (ميت) اتصل بي و كان فيه دوشة حواليه و كان بيوشوش بيحاول يقوللي حاجةـ بعدها تليفونه فصل، أنا قلقان يكون اتقبض عليه هو كمان.
قبضوا على 20 واحد على الأقل و أحنا بنحاول نجمع أساميهم
“I've just escaped from the demonstration held at Tahrir now. The security forces forcefully attacked the demonstration which was broken up into at least three different groups. After that they started kidnapping the demonstrating youth. In front of my own eyes, they arrested Bahaa Saber and four others. Mohammed Adel called me but there was a lot of noise around him. He was whispering to me but I couldn't hear him. After that, he phone disconnected. I am concerned that he has been arrested too. They have arrested 20 people at least and we are now trying to gather their names,” he writes.


Abdulfattah
‘s concerns were in their place, and blogger Mohammed Adel, along with Mohammed Taher, were both arrested.

According to another post on Abdulfattah's blog, the demonstration, in which bloggers reported the heavy-handedness of the police in dispersing the crowds, was called for by Kifaya to protest against the unilateral amendments being made on the Constitution by the National Party. He says the changes to the Constitution aim to “ensure the continuation of the dictatorial rule over the country, the inheritance of succession and the abolishment of judiciary monitoring of the elections.”

One of the bloggers, who describes himself as a Leftist Egyptian, writes about how he too escaped imprisonment but not humiliation at the hands of the security forces.

الحمد لله عديت من اديهم بعد ان قضيت قرابة الساعتين من المساءله و الاهانه
ماحدث اليوم كان مهزله
انا و بعض المتجمعين في ميدان التحرير كما ذكر اعلان التظاهر كنا مجرد طعم لرجلات امن الدوله ليلتهوا بخطفنا و مساءلاتنا في الميدان …
فعلا انا في حاجه للراحه الان و سوف اوافيكم بالاخبار تباعاً عن معتقلي التظاهره
“I thank God I was able to escape from them. I spent about two hours being interrogated and humiliated. What happened today was a farce. Some of those gathered at the Tahrir Square and I were just bait for the security forces to have fun kidnapping and interrogating us…I really need some rest now and will let you know more about those arrested later,” he writes.

For a comprehensive report on what's happening, our best bet would be to check journalist and blogger Hossam Al Hamalawy‘s blog – whose reporting dotted with photographs which show how the police handled the protesters, such as this:

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“Police cracked down on Kefaya’s demonstration against Mubarak’s authoritarian constitutional reforms on Thursday, detaining more than 35 activists.
I arrived in Tahrir Sq by 5pm… The last time I recall seeing Cairo as I saw it today, was probably in March 2003 with the crackdown on the anti-war riots. Central Security Forces trucks were everywhere. I spotted at least seven trucks by the Egyptian Museum, four at Abdel Moneim Riyadh Sq, at least three in Mohamed Mahmoud St. in front of the American University in Cairo, at least six by the Mugamma’ neighboring the US embassy in Garden City. The uniformed soldiers were not initially deployed outside their trucks, but the entire downtown area was occupied by plainclothes security agents from State Security police who were literally on every single corner, street and square in the company of three or four uniformed police generals, and some senior security officials in suits,” explains Al Hamalawy.

We were moving slowly, and still pushed by the police from our backs into Talaat Harb Sq, and then we got into another scuffle with the same rude blond State Security agent in the middle of the square. He and his friends kept pushing us in the chests, so we started a slurring match, and pushing back and fourth. A battalion of uniformed CSF troops was mobilized quickly to surround the 12 of us. It was pathetic. Bloody pathetic, to see the regime mobilizing all of those troops for such a small number. The two women lawyers in the crowd screamed at the police after we were circled, and after good five minutes we escaped running towards the Tagammu Party HQ, from where I was hearing chants.

Nora Younis, who is in the US, also continues to update her story as more details emerge.

“Reading the list at Alaa’s blog I stopped breathing. I have been also reading lists for days and days at Abdel Monem blog – ana ikhwan and everyday carries more numbers and faces behind bars. The day will come when I will read the name list of government officials and state security generals held accountable for their crimes Mr. Mubarak. Your suggested constitution is farce and you already know it. It wouldn’t hurt your aging delicate ears to hear it once more in Tahrir Square – would it? You sell yourself internationally as a secular regime while you impose on us article II of the constitution and use it to discriminate against Copts, Baha’is, other Egyptian citizens and Abdel Kereem. You sell yourself locally as a religious government while you crush the Muslim Brotherhood. You make sense no more!” she writes.

In the comments section to this link, Abdulfattah Younis wonders:

I am shocked at the poor media coverage to the event
We used to get online photos faster than this
And this stupid report by reuters say the total was 30 protesters and 4 were arrested.. On what sense could the total be 30 if 35 were arrested? http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L15364703.htm
Who was covering the event from Reuters?

Meanwhile, blogger Zeinobia, reminds us that the bloggers were not arrested for their blogging activities.

Ok I was right when I said from couple of days that it would be the Spring of anger, it seems it will be one of Spring for one hell of a Summer
Just from few minutes ago I checked “Manal and Alaa.net” new pink blog “beautiful chic design at last thank God” and it turned out that today's protest of Kefaya movement against the Constitution amendments ended sadly as it was reported that 32 from the protesters were arrested among them according Alaa two bloggers Mohamed Adel who is from the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Taher who seems to be from El-Gad party as I understand from his blog. Of course they weren't arrested because they are bloggers but because they are participating in the protest against the Constitution amendments, this is just a side remark

There sure is never a dull moment in Egypt!

11 comments

  • what is these bloggers’ political colour?Moslem Brotherhood?Left?Liberal?or just citizens with a desire for justice…

  • All of the above, Hamid. The Egyptian blogsphere is now big enough to include people from all ends of the political spectrum in Egypt, especially after the recent, powerful–and good!–entry of Muslim Brotherhood bloggers, writing about their family and friends in detention and in military courts.

  • it’s not true, I never expressed shock at poor media coverage. I was too busy running away from police, protesting, chasing prison cars and running from police station to police station trying to track our detainees to even notice if media coverage was good or bad. I think that was Nora’s comment.

  • Dear Amira,
    I am so saddened to hear this. It would appear that Egypt believes it can get away with anything now. Nothing ever changes just because we wish it to. These are brave people who protest. I shall pray for them…all. Thank you.

  • Egyptian dissidents detained…

    We publicized the arrests of Abdel Karim Suleiman and Alaa seif el-Islam. Alaa was subsequently released, but now the Egyptian government is cracking down on activists, arresting some of them at a demonstration. The charge against the 21 arrested [and….

  • Alaa,
    You are right. Thanks for pointing it out. It was Nora’s comment!

  • […] Rarely does a week pass by without news about the arrest of one or more Egyptian bloggers. On March 15 2007, three bloggers were arrested –- then released the same day — for taking part in a protest against the controversial constitutional amendments which were approved by Egypt’s parliament on March 19. On March 20, three more bloggers, MaLeK (aka MaLcoLM X), Mohammad Gamal (aka Gimihood) and Mina (aka Haj Girgis), were arrested en route to a sit-in in front of the People’s Assembly in Cairo. They were also released the same day. […]

  • […] Rarely does a week pass by without news about the arrest of one or more Egyptian bloggers. On March 15 2007, three bloggers were arrested –- then released the same day — for taking part in a protest against the controversial constitutional amendments which were approved by Egypt’s parliament on March 19. On March 20, three more bloggers, MaLeK (aka MaLcoLM X), Mohammad Gamal (aka Gimihood) and Mina (aka Haj Girgis), were arrested en route to a sit-in in front of the People’s Assembly in Cairo. They were also released the same day. […]

  • maybe ma comment is kinda soo late but i wasnt that lucky to know abt the site before
    i wanna answer Hamid Tehrani abt his Question

    Hamid Tehrani
    lets just say egyptians sayin NO to Mubarak & his guys
    however the political color is Moslem Brotherhood, Left or Liberal

    we were egyptians sayin no askin for our rights & after short time we turned to egyptians running escaping from the police hands for not to get arrested & tortured

    but we still have the hope to set EGYPT our country free

  • […] a week pass by without news about the arrest of one or more Egyptian bloggers. On March 15 2007, three bloggers were arrested –- then released the same day — for taking part in a protest against the controversial […]

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