Egypt: Arrested Activists and Bloggers Released in the Desert

Bloggers Roam the Desert


Egypt today released bloggers and other activists arrested in an anti-Mubarak rally in Cairo held the previous day in the desert, according to bloggers.

Blogger and journalist Hossam El Hamalawy, who has been closely following the developments, writes:

Police released the remaining Kefaya activists in custody today in the afternoon, after they spent their night in the Qattamiya desert, locked up in two prison trucks.
There were two prison trucks; one containing eight detainees: Ahmad Droubi, Adham el-Safti, Omar Mustafa, Ahmad Samir, Khaled Mustafa, Sherif Ragab, Mohamed Abdel Qader, Kareem el-Sha’er.
The other car, it turned out, had two activists only: Mohamed Gamal and Omar el-Hadi.
The detainees, according to a phone interview with Droubi, were not allowed to leave the car, and were given food only once at 4am. They even had to urinate inside the prison truck in empty Koshari boxes and bottles, courtsey of Mubarak’s police.
The prison trucks started cruising in the afternoon again, and dropped each detainee off in a different location out in the desert, starting from 2:40pm, according to lawyer Rajia Omran.

The arrests were made during demonstrations called for by the opposition, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Kefaya, against proposed amendments to the constitution. A referendum on the changes which would help the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) exclude opposition Islamists from the political system was also held today. The referendum, which was marred by civil unrest and clashes with the police as seen in the photograph above, saw a low turn out because of calls by the opposition for people to boycott it.

According to blogger Alaa Abdelfattah, the changes (Arabic) – “ensure the continuation of the dictatorial rule over the country, the inheritance of succession and the abolishment of judiciary monitoring of the elections.”

But what happens to activists who end up in prison in Egypt?

The following link gives us a chilling insight to life behind bars in a detention centre. There are also photographs and a video link showing the atrocious conditions detainees are subjected to when rounded up at protests.

I have noticed the following in the prison cells and the treatment with detainees:
First: The prison cells were so narrow; one of the detention cells was 3 * 4 metres and it contained 11 detainees; the other was 6 * 3 metres and it contained about 14 detainees; Ikhwanweb correspondent managed to take photos of them through his camera phone which he hid in his clothes after the security forces have arrested him.
Second: The toilets are not suitable for human use.
Third: The detainees received tough treatment from the state security: visits were banned, their lawyers were not allowed to visit them throughout the period of detention except when the detainees declared their hunger strike, the police officers allowed lawyers in cells to attempt to make them stop the hunger strike.
Fourth: Conflicting orders from State Security Police officers.
Fifth: There was no difference between Muslim Brotherhood detainees and Kifaya detainees; the regime gives of them the same maltreatment, repression and persecution, the same policy it will use towards any one opposition to the constitutional amendments.
Sixth: MB, Kifaya members were detained in this crackdown; the system did not differentiate between them.

Is Censorship the Solution?

In Egypt, many activists double as bloggers, in a bid to air their grievances about the authorities and the system. To reign in increasing dissent, Judge Abdel Fattah Mourad is hoping to block 21 blogs and websites which are deemed as harming Egypt’s national security, defaming Egypt’s image abroad, and insulting President Hosni Mubarak.

“The Administrative Court will look into the lawsuit filed by Judge Abdel Fattah Mourad to block 21 blogs and websites, on Tuesday, 9am…PLEASE SHOW UP! THE EGYPTIAN BLOGOSPHERE NEEDS YOUR SOLIDARITY AND SUPPORT,” pleads El Hamalawy.

Photocredit: Amr Abdallah


  • Naira Badawi

    Censorship is certainly not the solution. The way activists are being treated just to benefit their country need to be shouted out loud and clear. Something needs to be done about the police brutality in Egypt. The only way it can is if everyone is notified. Amnestry International needs to be notified. Egyptians are being smothered.

  • […] Moving on, another Egyptian Bobs award winning blogger Jar Al Qamar is back in Egypt after spending two weeks in the US, where he was bombarded with details about Anna Nicole Smith’s death and the custody battle still going on. عدت الى مصر لاجد ان عبد الكريم سيقضي حتما سنواته الاربع التاليه -وريما اكثر- في سجن ما عقابا له على زرطات تدوينيه .. و ان رئيس محكمة استئناف الاسكندريه السابق يقاضي مدونين آخرين بتهمة اهانة رئيس الجمهوريه ..و ان مالكا قد تم اختطافه في سياره زرقاء .. و ان الامن قد عاد ليقبض على المتظاهرين بعد توقف – المتظاهرين او الامن او كليهما . و ان اكثر من ثلاثين مادة حيوية في دستور البلد تم اقرار تعديلها و تحديد الاستفتاء عليها خلال ايام .. و ان الاي بود الذي فزت به بصفتي صاحب هذه المدونه وصل الى بر مصر بعد خمسة اشهر من اعلان الفوز به , غير انه محتجز في مكتب بريد سيدي بشر بحري حتى التحصل على مبلغ الف و خمسة جنيهات نظير رسوم الجمارك و الارضية و الشحن و اكراميات العمال و خلافه “I returned to Egypt to find that Abdulkareem will definitely spend the next four years of his life or probably more in jail as punishment for what he wrote on his blog; that the former head of the Alexandria Appeal Court has filed a case against other bloggers for insulting the president; that (blogger) Malek has been kidnapped in a blue car; that the Security Forces are back to arresting protesters after a break – on the part of the demonstrators, security forces or both; that more than 30 vital clauses in our constitution have been approved and that a public referendum is set for the next few days.. and that the Ipod I won as the owner of this blog has arrived in Egypt five months after the announcement was made and that it is being held in the Seydi Beshr Post Office, and that I can only collect it after paying 1,500 Egyptian pounds in taxes, handling charges, shipping, tips for employees and other charges,” he notes. […]

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