Alaa Abd El-Fattah

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Alaa Abd El-Fattah
علاء عبدالفتاح
Alaa Abd El-Fatah profile photo.jpg
Born علاء أحمد سيف عبد الفتاح
(1981-11-18) 18 November 1981 (age 32)[1]
Cairo, Egypt
Residence Cairo
Nationality Egyptian
Ethnicity Egyptian
Religion Muslim
Spouse(s) Manal
Children Khaled
Parents Ahmad Seif and Laila Suief
Relatives Mona Seif (sister)
Website
manalaa.net

Alaa Abd El-Fattah (Arabic: علاء أحمد سيف عبد الفتاح‎, IPA: [ʕæˈlæːʔ ˈæħmæd ˈseːf ʕæbdelfatˈtæːħ]; also presented in English as Alaa Abdel Fattah) is an Egyptian blogger, software developer, and political activist. He is known for co-founding along with his wife Manal Hassan, daughter of activist Bahi El-Din Hassan,[2] the Egyptian blog aggregator "Manalaa" and "Omraneya", the first Arab blog aggregators that did not restrict inclusion based on the content of the blog.[3][4] In 2005 the "Manalaa" blog won the Special Reporters Without Borders Award in Deutsche Welle's Best of Blogs competition.[5] He has been active in developing Arabic-language versions of important software and platforms.[6] He was imprisoned in Egypt for allegedly organising a political protest, an activity that became illegal in November 2013 with a new anti-protest law, though he was released on bail on 23 March 2014.[7]

Background[edit]

Alaa grew up in a family of activists and activism was a constant topic of discussion in his childhood. His father, Ahmed Seif El-Islam Hamad, a human rights attorney who had been arrested in 1983 by State Security Investigations Service officers and tortured and imprisoned for five years, is one of the founders of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center.[8] His mother Laila Soueif, the sister of the novelist and political commentator Ahdaf Soueif,[9] is a professor of mathematics at Cairo University and a political activist.[10] His parents' activism dates to the days of Anwar Sadat.[11] During a demonstration in 2005 his mother, along with other women, were attacked by Mubarak supporters; Alaa was said to have protected her.[12] One of his sisters is Mona Seif, a founding member of the 'No Military Trials for Civilians', a group raising awareness for the civilian detainees summoned by military prosecutors and investigating torture allegations involving military police.[13] His other sister Sanaa Seif is a teenage student that co-founded a newspaper about the Arab spring called 'Gornal'.[14]

May 2006 arrest and reaction[edit]

A picture of Alaa that was used by activists demanding his release

On 7 May 2006, Alaa was arrested during a peaceful protest after he called for an independent judiciary. His arrest, along with that of several other bloggers and activists, spurred solidarity protests by others around the world,[15][16] some of whom created the blog "Free Alaa" devoted to calling for his release from jail.[17][18] Alaa was released on 20 June 2006, after spending 45 days in jail. His wife Manal was quoted by the The Independent as saying: "There's no going back now, we'll definitely be continuing our activities."[19]

2011 revolution[edit]

Abd el-Fattah in Tahrir Square.

According to Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram Weekly, Abd el-Fattah's name "is in many ways synonymous with Egypt's 25 January Revolution." Alaa took part in nearly every demonstration since the revolution began.[20] He was not in Egypt on 25 January 2011, when the anti-regime protests began and when the Egyptian government shut down the internet in the country. However, he was able to collect information from family and friends by land-line phones and published to the outside world the events occurring in Egypt during the first days of the revolution.[citation needed] A few days later he returned to Egypt and was in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests, on 2 February. While demonstrating there, he participated in defending the square from attacks by security forces and pro-regime assailants, an event known in Egypt as "camel battle."[21]

Alaa continued his participation in the Egyptian revolution, until Mubarak stepped down from presidency. He thereafter settled in Egypt, where he maintained his participation in the demonstrations against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' (SCAF) way of running the country after Mubarak's fall.[19]

Second arrest[edit]

On October 30, Alaa was arrested on charges of inciting violence against the military during the October 9 Maspero demonstrations, during which hundreds of people were injured and 27 died in the worst violence since Mubarak left office. Alaa refused to recognise the legitimacy of his interrogators or answer their questions and was then to be held for 15 days, a period that indefinitely renewable.[22] He was accused of having incited fighting in Maspero, of assaulting soldiers and damaging military property.[23] As in his 2006 imprisonment, his mother spoke out in his support, and initiated a hunger strike in opposition to the court-martialling of civilians on November 6.[24] His father and sisters also participated in the 2011 protests.[11] At his first hearing, Alaa's father, Ahmed Seif Al Islam - a human rights attorney - presented the military court with video tapes, one of which contained footage of Armored Personnel Carriers running over protesters and another of state television anchors "inciting violence." He also accused the head of military police of being directly responsible for the violence and accused the Supreme Council of Armed Forces of obstruction of justice for instituting a curfew the night of the attack in order to "hide all the evidence of the army's crimes."[25]

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) called for the release of Alaa and all others imprisoned for exercising free speech,[26] while Amnesty International issued a condemnation of his imprisonment and accusing SCAF of involvement in the Maspero clashes.[27] In reaction to his imprisonment, thousands of protesters took part in demonstrations in Cairo and Alexandria demanding Alaa's release. Human rights activists and bloggers outside of Egypt have also called for his release.[20] While incarcerated in the Bab al-Khalq Prison, he wrote a letter to fellow Egyptian activists, claiming that SCAF had "hijacked" the revolution. He also compared his current imprisonment with the jail time he served in 2006, saying "I never expected to repeat the experience of five years ago. After a revolution that deposed the tyrant, I go back to his jails?"[27]

Following protests against Alaa's incarceration, military authorities allowed his case to be handled by a civilian court instead of military tribunal. On December 13, the court dropped two charges against him, including incitement and illegal assembly. The court extended his detention for another 15 days and maintained the charges of stealing weapons and shooting at soldiers. While Alaa remained in custody, his son Khaled was born, named after Khaled Said, the slain blogger who had become a symbol of the Egyptian revolution.[28]

On Sunday 25 December 2011, a judge representing the public prosecutor’s office ordered the release of Alaa Abd El-Fattah to take place the following day. He remained under a travel ban.[29][30]

2013 arrest[edit]

In November 2013, Alaa was arrested again for allegedly encouraging a demonstration against the new constitution outside the Egyptian Parliament.[31] 20 policemen raided Abd El-Fattah's home, broke the door down, and proceeded to confiscate the family's computers and mobile phones. When Alaa asked to see the arrest warrant, the police physically assaulted him and his wife.[32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ @EgyptianLiberal, Twitter post, "21 Jun via Choqok". The date used here as birth date is presented without explanation -- just the date -- at the post.
  2. ^ "Alaa Abdel Fattah: Portrait of a revolutionary". Ahram online. Retrieved 20 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Manalaa.net". Manalaa.net. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Core to Commonplace: The Evolution of Egypt’s Blogosphere". Arab Media and Society. 2008. 
  5. ^ "Egyptian Couple Awarded For Best Free Expression Blog". IFEX. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Worldchanging essay "Arabization – It's Harder than just Right to Left" December 2004
  7. ^ "Activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah released on bail". Ahram Online. 23 March 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "Human rights defender in egypt: Ahmed Seif El-Islam" Amnesty International. 9 December 2008
  9. ^ Soueif, Ahdaf (13 November 2011). "In Egypt, the stakes have risen". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-11-16. 
  10. ^ Alexandra, Nick. "An Egyptian revolutionary: A woman who relentlessly campaigned for justice for over 30 years is one of the true heroines of the revolution". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  11. ^ a b Murphy, Kim, "A family nurtured in rebellion", Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-09.
  12. ^ Bronstein, Scott (16 June 2011). "For Egyptian online warrior, father's torture fueled activism". CNN. Retrieved 2011-06-17. 
  13. ^ Soueif, Ahdaf (13 November 2011). "In Egypt, the stakes have risen". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "The Family That Revolts Together". Bidoun. Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  15. ^ McCarthy, Rory (8 May 2006). "Cairo clamps down on dissent | World news | guardian.co.uk". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  16. ^ blogpost, Ethan Zuckerman's blog, 05/08/2006 9:24 am.
  17. ^ "Freealaa blog". Freealaa.blogspot.com. 10 May 2006. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  18. ^ Haitham Sabbah (10 May 2006). "Google-bombing for Alaa: Press Release | Sabbah Report". Sabbah.biz. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  19. ^ a b Black, Jeff (21 June 2006). "Egypt releases blogger jailed for 45 days after 'insulting' President – Middle East, World". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  20. ^ a b Dawoud, Khaled. The Face of Protest. Al-Ahram Weekly. 2011-11-17.
  21. ^ "Trial begins over Egypt's 'camel battle'". Al Jazeera. 11 September 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  22. ^ Shenker, Jack (31 October 2011). "Egyptian revolutionary Alaa Abd El Fattah arrested by junta". Guardian (London). Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  23. ^ Associated Press in Cairo (2 November 2011). "Jailed Egyptian activist's mother on hunger strike". Guardian (London). Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  24. ^ Fleishman, Jeffrey, "Egyptian mother on hunger strike to free blogger son from prison", Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2011 7:35 am. Retrieved 2011-11-09.
  25. ^ "Egypt: Activist Detained for Inciting Violence | Pulitzer Center". pulitzercenter.org. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  26. ^ http://www.thedailynewsegypt.com/human-a-civil-rights/un-calls-for-release-of-egyptian-blogger.html
  27. ^ a b Shenker, Jack. Egyptian activist Alaa Abd El Fattah accuses army of hijacking revolution. The Guardian. 2011-11-02.
  28. ^ Mackey, Robert. Egypt Drops Some Charges Against Blogger. New York Times. 2011-12-13.
  29. ^ "Judge releases arrested blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah". www.almasryalyoum.com. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  30. ^ "Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah to be released from prison: report". Al Arabiya. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  31. ^ Kingsley, Patrick (29 November 2013). "Egyptian activist arrested amid government crackdown on dissent". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  32. ^ "Update: Alaa Abd El Fattah arrested, being held at CSF barracks". Mada Masr. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 

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