Egyptian activist held over protest call
29 November 2013, 14:59
Cairo - Egyptian security forces arrested a prominent
political activist on Thursday night over inciting a demonstration in defiance
of a new law heavily restricting protests in the country, his family said.
The arrest of Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a blogger who rose to
prominence in Egypt's 2011 revolution, quickly dominated social media. His
previous detention sparked protests against the military, which appeared likely
again as recently quiet liberal and secular groups have expressed increasing
alarm over the military-backed government since it enacted the new protest law
Meanwhile, police used tear gas and water cannons on Thursday
to disperse protesting students and supporters of the country's ousted Islamist
president, sparking clashes that killed one person
Abdel-Fattah's father, prominent lawyer Ahmed Seif al-Islam,
told The Associated Press that security forces raided his son's home on Thursday
night in Cairo. His father said that Abdel-Fattah's wife was beaten during the
raid and that authorities seized laptops from the house.
An interior ministry official later confirmed police
arrested Abdel-Fattah over the warrant, but offered no other details. The
official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak
publicly to journalists.
After the raid, Abdel-Fattah's wife, Manal Bahy Eldin, wrote
on Twitter: "If police beat me up while I am in my home, what would they
do with Alaa? I am very worried about him."
Egypt's prosecutor general had issued a warrant for
Abdel-Fattah's arrest and that of another youth leader for allegedly inciting a
demonstration on Tuesday, two days after interim President Adly Mansour enacted
the new protest law. Among the new rules in the law, it requires three-day
prior notice to the interior ministry for protests to take place, while also
setting prison terms and high fines for violators.
After the warrant was issued, Abdel-Fattah said he would
turn himself in to authorities on Saturday.
"I don't deny the charge," he wrote in a
statement. "It's an honour to hold responsibility for people's rallies in
defiance to legalising the return of" the rule of Hosni Mubarak, the
longtime president ousted in Egypt's 2011 revolution.
The protest law comes as part of efforts by authorities to
break the back of near-daily protests by Islamist demonstrators over the 3 July
popularly backed military coup that toppled President Mohammed Morsi. While
granting police more power, they also galvanized liberal and secular group
dissatisfaction with the military.
Abdel-Fattah previously was detained for two months in late
2011 by military authorities over allegations he attacked soldiers carrying out
a bloody crackdown on protesters. He was later released without charge. He also
was accused of inciting violence during clashes between opponents and
supporters of Morsi before his ouster.