Prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah arrested as crackdown continues
Prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah who was released on probation in March was arrested again on Sunday, his family and a security source said, part of what government critics say is the largest wave of arrests since President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi took power.
Rights groups say about 1,900 people have been detained since anti-government protests began in Cairo and other Egyptian cities last week. The public prosecutor's office said on Thursday no more than 1,000 suspects had been questioned.
Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and software engineer, was released in March after serving a five-year sentence for protesting without permission in breach of a 2013 law that rights groups say effectively bans protests.
Under the terms of his release, Abdel Fattah was required to spend his nights at a police station for five years. His family said he was rearrested on Sunday morning as he was preparing to leave the station.
"I arrived at the police station and I found the place where he spends the probation empty, I asked them where Alaa was ... The chief detective came out and told me that Alaa is at the national security prosecution," his sister Mona said.
"Walls of Freedom": immortalising the Egyptian Revolution
The book "Walls of Freedom" presents readers with images of the street art of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. The English-language photo book is published by the activist and street artist Don Karl (aka Stone). In Egypt, the work has fallen victim to censorship. Wafah Al-Badri offers his impressions of "Walls of Freedom"
"Honour for the Unknown": this wall painting on Mohamed Mahmoud Street depicts a homeless child who lost his life on Tahrir Square during the revolution. The painting is the work of Ammar Abu Bakr, who says, "Our walls show the truth, and the book 'Walls of Freedom' serves as our tool to share the events of the revolution with the world."
The book "Walls of Freedom" was published in 2013 and shows works of graffiti dealing with the Egyptian Revolution and the events that followed after 2011. The book was published in English by Don Karl, who hails from Berlin, in collaboration with the Egyptian designer Basma Hamdy.
Just as the pharaohs of bygone days immortalised themselves with images on the walls of their temples, modern-day Egyptian artists preserve the memory of the events surrounding the January Revolution on the walls of their cities with graffiti and wall murals. Alaa Awad painted this work of graffiti in memory of thousands of football fans who lost their lives in 2012.
The streets surrounding Tahrir Square have become a gallery for street artists. The graffiti depicted here bears the title "Egyptian Identity" and was painted by Ammar Abu Bakr and Alaa Abd El Hamid. The Arabic calligraphy was provided by Sameh Ismael and the poem was written by Ahmed Aboul Hassan.
In 2011, Mohamed Mahmoud Street in Cairo was the site of bloody clashes between demonstrators and the security forces. Now it is a central part of this art gallery of the revolution. It features a work of graffiti by Abood with the title "State vs. Freedom." Basma Hamdy photographed the piece and published it in "Walls of Freedom."
This is the work of Ammar Abu Bakr and Farik, who belong to the "No Walls" movement. The trompe-l'oeil of a street scene is painted on the blocks of a barricade put up during the revolution to prevent demonstrators from storming the Interior Ministry.
The photographer who works under the pseudonym "El-Zeft" captured this image and named it "Peace Machine." The book "Walls of Freedom" features some 750 photographs and expressive works of graffiti by close to 100 artists. The publication of this book was forbidden in Egypt because it supposedly incites the reader to engage in violence against the government.
Portraits of the heroes of the revolution: "The police would remove a work of graffiti even if it served to honour one of their own men – just as they removed my graffiti of General Batran, who lost his life during the first attacks of the revolution," says Ammar Abu Bakr.
This work of graffiti by the artist Hanaa El Degham ironically portrays the queues of Egyptians waiting to vote. The queue is just as long as that of Egyptians having to wait for gas cylinders, often resulting in skirmishes between those waiting.
The Interior Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment, but a security source told journalists an arrest warrant had been issued against Abdel Fattah over accusations of publishing false news and inciting people to protest.
Abdel Fattah was a leading voice among the liberal youth who initially led the 2011 uprising that ended the 30-year rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Mohamed al-Baqer, a lawyer representing Abdel Fattah, was arrested late on Sunday while waiting for the interrogation of his client to start at the national security prosecutor's office, said another lawyer, Amr Imam, who witnessed the incident.
"This is a blatant violation against lawyers.. Lawyers are immune while working, just like judges and prosecutors. As a lawyer, I am afraid about getting arrested right now," he added.
Rights groups say the crackdown by Sisi's government on dissent is the most severe crackdown in recent memory. The president's backers say the authorities need to stabilise Egypt after the turmoil following the 2011 uprising.
Several hundred of those detained in the past week, including writers, activists and opposition figures, have been placed under investigation on allegations of using social media to spread false news, joining a banned terrorist group and protesting without a permit, defence lawyers say.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, expressed concern on Friday over the human rights situation in Egypt.
"I remind the Egyptian government that under international law people have a right to protest peacefully," Bachelet said, adding they had a right to express opinions on social media.
"They should never be detained, let alone charged with serious offences, simply for exercising those rights,” she said.
Egypt's Foreign Ministry dismissed the U.N. statement, saying it was "based on baseless information". (Reuters)