Rights groups call on Egypt authorities to free Esraa Abdel Fattah
The Committee to Protect Journalists and Amnesty International are calling for the Egyptian government to release a journalist who they say has been detained by security officials and investigate allegations that she has been beaten and tortured in custody.
The groups said Esraa Abdel Fattah, a writer and human rights activist who works on the Tahrir News website, was taken from her car by security officers Sunday in a city west of Cairo. According to her lawyers, the officers took her to an undisclosed location where they physically assaulted her and choked her with her own clothing while asking for her cell phone password and forcing her to remain standing for several hours while handcuffed.
Her lawyers said Egyptian authorities have charged Abdel Fattah with spreading false news, membership in a banned group and social media misuse and ordered her back to detention for 15 days.
"Egyptian authorities must immediately free Esraa Abdel Fattah, drop all charges against her and conduct a speedy and transparent investigation into allegations that she was tortured by security forces," said Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa coordinator for CPJ. "Abdel Fattah should never have been arrested, let alone subject to the horrific treatment her lawyers say she has received in custody."
"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 manner of her arrest - being abducted by plainclothes officers and taken away in a van in public - marks an alarming new trend in the way Egyptian authorities target human rights defenders," said Najia Bounaim, director of North Africa campaigns at Amnesty International.
CPJ reported that Egyptian authorities have surveilled her and banned her from leaving the country since 2016.
Tahrir News is the digital counterpart of al-Tahrir newspaper; CPJ said its reporting showed the website has been blocked within Egypt for the last several months.
Egypt cracked down on unusual anti-government protests last month.
More than 2,000 people, including rights lawyers, activists, journalists and several foreign nationals, were arrested, lawyers said, but the country's general prosecutor said no more than 1,000 people were questioned.
The government has banned all unauthorised street protests and has blocked hundreds of websites, including some run by independent media and human rights groups. (AP)