Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Mother of jailed Egyptian blogger on hunger strike | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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CAIRO (AP) — The mother of one of Egypt’s best known activists has gone on hunger strike to protest her son’s detention by the country’s military rulers, the family said on Wednesday.

Laila Soueif’s protest is part of the furor surrounding the Oct. 30 arrest of her son, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, one of Egypt’s most vocal activists and bloggers and an icon of the uprising that led to Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February.

The military has accused Abdel-Fattah of inciting sectarian clashes on Oct. 9 that killed 27 people, most of them Christians, in the worst violence since the anti-Mubarak revolt. He is also accused of assaulting on-duty soldiers and damaging military property.

Abdel-Fattah’s family said that Soueif, who is in her late 50s, began the strike on Sunday and has been surviving by drinking water and tea.

“My mother is in stable condition,” said Mona Seif, Abdel-Fattah’s sister. “She is surviving on water, tea without sugar and cigarettes. She has no intention of calling off the strike before Alaa is freed.”

Activists, meanwhile, planned a protest later Wednesday outside the Cairo prison where Abdel-Fattah is being held.

Abdel-Fattah was summoned by military prosecutors on Oct. 30. He refused to answer questions about the Oct. 9 violence on the grounds that the military was involved in the clashes.

A persistent controversy over whom to blame for the bloodshed has signaled a new low in relations between the military and activists, who blame the troops for starting the violence and army vehicles of running over protesters. The military denies the charge, insisting that troops deployed to deal with a Christian protest had no ammunition or firearms.

The military initially ordered the Cabinet to investigate the violence but later decreed that it will carry out the probe itself, a move that led to suspicions of a cover-up.

Abdel-Fattah’s arrest has triggered an uproar at home and abroad and, like the Oct. 9 clashes, has further tainted the military’s reputation.

His detention is one of several issues that have strained relations between the military and political activists. They accuse the ruling generals of human rights violations, ignoring calls at home and abroad for stopping trials of civilians before military tribunals — at least 12,000 since February — and of making major policy decisions without consultations.

“My brother’s arrest is a message from the military that it will now target the activists whom we thought were immune by virtue of their prominence,” Seif, Abdel-Fattah’s sister, said.