This weekend, Egyptian blogger, Twitter activist, and human rights advocate Alaa Abd El Fattah (@alaa), who is something of a legend, went in to a military court in Egypt for interrogation. "He refused to answer the military’s questions, refused to grant them legitimacy, and was thus detained for 15 days," Jillian York writes in this blog post about her friend.
At Global Voices, Amira Al Hussaini has more here, and Rasha Abdullah has more here. At the NYT, Bob Mackey has background on the case. Egyptian activists around the world are outraged.
This isn't the first time Alaa has gone to jail for political reasons: there was a high-profile internet campaign five years ago for his freedom, when he was held under similarly trumped-up charges. The regime hasn't changed. The images in this post are all from that campaign.
Hopefully, public outcry this time around will result in similar success. His wife Manal Hassan (@manal), also an online activist, is expecting their first baby soon.
Fellow Egyptian activist Bahaa Saber was also called before the military court that same day, but was released even though he took the same position as Alaa, in protesting the legitimacy of military tribunals.
As soon as he was outside, he led chants condemning the SCAF, weeping for his friend, according to onlookers via Twitter.
Just last week, Alaa was in San Francisco for RightsCon, and visited the Occupy San Francisco. He tweeted from the Occupy a number of times, and was among those Egyptians who suggested that demonstrators back home in Tahrir Square march in support of the Occupy Oakland police crackdown. And they did.
Last night, folks in Egypt were tweeting that a small gathering of protesters marched around the military prison where Alaa is being held, chanting. Some observers tweeted that Alaa whistled back at them from his cell.
Bruce Sterling’s characteristically acerbic remarks on the US election gets to a really important point: internet-based movements have been amazing at tearing down corrupt establishment system, but have failed (so far) to create the kinds of stable governance structures that build up something better from the ruins.
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