Mona Seif reports on crackdown in Egypt including her brother’s case

December 6, 2013

By Mona Seif, founder of ‘No to Military Trials for Civilians’ and Final Nominee 2013 of the MEA reports in some detail the following:

Egyptian Activists Arrested in Growing Crackdown – Activist Alaa Abd El Fattah one of at least 27 people currently charged under Egypt’s new anti-protest law

Mona Seif, Egypt - Final Nominee MEA 2013

Mona Seif, Egypt – Final Nominee MEA 2013

Egypt is facing a growing crackdown on political protest and dissent. This week has seen the arrest of 27 political activists under the cover of a new law designed to effectively ban protest in Egypt. On November 26th the well-known and internationally respected activist group, No to Military Trials for Civilians, called for a demonstration in front of the Shoura Council (the Upper House of the Egyptian parliament) to protest the failure of the current draft constitution to legislate against the military court martials of civilians. The entirely peaceful protest was met with serious force by the police, who attacked demonstrators with a water cannon and tear gas while arresting as many people as they could. At least 51 people were arrested that day.

The female protestors, when arrested, were also beaten and some were sexually harassed.  After several hours inside Police Station #1 in New Cairo they were informed they would be released. When they refused to leave custody without the men they were beaten again, forced into a police truck, driven out to the desert and left there. They were not charged. However 24 of the male protesters were detained 4 days pending investigations, which was extended 15 days more.

Warrants for the arrests of Alaa Abd El Fattah and Ahmed Maher – both well-known activists – were issued later that day for the incitement and organisation of the protest. It is well-known that neither Abd El Fattah or Maher are among the organisers of the No to Military Trials group. And although Abd El Fattah [the brother of Mona Seif] publicly stated that he would turn himself in, and notified the prosecutor general of his intention to do so through official channels, the police chose to violently raid his home instead. At around 10pm on November 28th an assault team arrived at his house, some wearing plainclothes. They didn’t show a search warrant and when his wife, Manal, demanded to see one they were both beaten. They took their computers and their telephones. Their two-year old son, Khaled, was asleep in the next room.

His family spent all night trying to locate his whereabouts, but all police stations denied having him or knowledge of where he is detained. Next morning his father – also his lawyer – was informed that his interrogation would take place in Cairo Central security building. When his father saw him he found out Alaa was left to spend the night on the floor of a cell, blindfolded with his hands cuffed behind his back. Maher turned himself on Saturday November 30th, was released the following day, then re-arrested for charges of “organizing an unauthorized protest while turning himself in”!

On December 1st, Alaa Abd El Fattah’s detention was extended. On December 4th, 23 of the initial 24 detainees were released on bail. Ahmed Abdelrahman was not, so he too remains in jail. Maher is facing four days of investigation for a separate protest that took place outside Abdeen Courthouse. On December 3rd Ahmed Douma, another well-known activist, was arrested from his home, also for the Abdeen protest. The arbitrary nature of the arrests is made clear by the well-known fact that neither Abd El Fattah nor Maher were organisers of the protest in question. It was called for by the No to Military Trials for Civilians group, who have publicly taken responsibility for its organisation. The leading members of No to Military Trials are well-known in Egypt, and are certainly known by the police. They also officially stated to the prosecution the next day that they were the organizers for this event, however the prosecutor decided to release them. This move by the interior ministry is attempting to set a precedent which allows for anyone to be arrested on the accusation of organising a protest.

Egyptian activists have shown clearly that they will resist the oppressive new anti-protest law. Two protests were held the day after it came into effect – November 26th – and a third – on November 27th – saw thousands of people march through Downtown Cairo and to the gates of Parliament Street. Similar protests held in five cities across the country, including Suez and Alexandria, were held in defiance of the law and were also attacked. A protest at Cairo University, on the 28th of November, was attacked by the police, breaking the gates of the university with tear gas and shotguns. At least one student – Mohamed Reda – was killed. Meanwhile, in Alexandria 14 young, female supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced to 11 years in prison for participating in a political protest. A protest held outside the Abdeen Courthouse on Saturday November 30th was violently broken up by the police with tear gas and shotguns.

Note that even under the new protest law, the violence with which the protests were dispersed was illegal.


Ahmed Abdelrahman

Aged 28 years old. Originally from Aswan but resides in Cairo for work. Works as a security man in private compound ” Rehab village” in 6th of October. On the day of the protest he was passing by downtown on his way to the bus station to take transports to his work. He happened to witness the moment where plain clothed police informants where assaulting and dragging 2 female protesters, so he tried to intervene to separate them from this attack which resulted in his arrest (photo provided in the link shows him wearing a black leather jacket) ِ During the interrogations the prosecution noted down that his bag contains: slippers, loufa, soap, and a small broken knife blade. He explained that his work shift extends for 2 days so he needs these items. He didn’t deny possession of the knife blade and said he uses it to cut salad and food while at work. Because of this  he was not released along with the 23 others.


The persecution of Alaa Abd El Fattah is a recurring theme in Egypt. He was jailed under the Mubarak regime for 45 days and again by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in 2011 – when he returned from giving a keynote speech at a technology conference in San Francisco to turn himself in. He remained in jail for almost two months, missing the birth of his son, Khalid. He also faced trumped-up charges designed to intimidate protest under the Morsi government in 2013 along with popular satirist Bassem Youssef. When the current arrest warrant was issued Abd El Fattah stated publicly that he would turn himself in on Saturday, going so far as to formally inform the Public Prosecutor’s office by telegram and registered letter. But the police violently raided his home instead.


 Full text of the protest law

November 26th 2013    Police Violently Disperse Peaceful Protest

November 26th 2013     Statement from “No to Military Trials” on the Arrest of Members for Protesting

November 28th 2013    Human Rights Watch press release regarding violent dispersal of protest

November 28th 2013    Amnesty: Egypt: Beaten and Arrested Under New Protest Law

November 29th 2013    Egyptian Activist Arrested Amidst Government Crackdown on Dissent

November 30th 2013     Video: Detainees of the Shoura Council Protest

December 1st 2013     Statement by Comrades from Cairo: We Don’t Need Permission to Protest

One Response to “Mona Seif reports on crackdown in Egypt including her brother’s case”

  1. […] April 10, 2014 On Monday 7 April, an appeals court in Cairo, Egypt, upheld the 3-year prison sentences for three pro-democracy activists on charges of unlawfully organizing a protest and assaulting security officers outside a court on November 30, 2013. The verdict against Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma, and Mohamed Adel marks the first usage of the new restrictive law. [None of the three activists were involved in any violence that took place when clashes broke out during the protests. Maher and Douma were inside the courthouse when scuffles ensued, and a police officer attested to the fact that Adel was attempting to pacify protesters.] for background see:… […]

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