Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1144, 18 - 24 April 2013
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1144, 18 - 24 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

Activist imprisoned

The cost of dissenting with the regime remains high, writes Amira Fouad

Protestors
Protestors
Al-Ahram Weekly

Alexandria witnessed citywide protests on Saturday in support of Hassan Mustafa, the legal activist detained on charges of assaulting a prosecutor, following news that his trial was being moved from the Mansheya Court Complex to Borg Al-Arab, some 60km from Alexandria.
On 12 March Mustafa received a two-year prison sentence after he was found guilty of slapping prosecutor Ahmed Darwish on the face, though the activist’s lawyer, Mustafa Khalaf, said “eyewitnesses denied the prosecution’s version of the incident.”
Charges were filed against Mustafa after he was involved in a confrontation with Darwish over the detention of a number of juveniles who were arrested after they took part in an anti-President Mohamed Morsi rally. Mustafa is said to have shouted at Darwish over the treatment of one of the detainees, a 14-year-old cancer patient whose need for medical care Darwish said the prosecution was deliberately ignoring. He was then charged with assault.
Mustafa has long been a thorn in the side of the authorities. He took the photograph of Khaled Said after the young Alexandrian was beaten to death by police. The photo spread like wildfire across the Internet, fuelling the outrage that finally toppled Hosni Mubarak. Subsequently Mustafa was sentenced to six-months in prison for allegedly assaulting Khaled Abdel-Mohsen, an investigative court officer. The sentence was eventually reduced to one month. In 2011 Mustafa was shot in the chest while trying to prevent the destruction of documents at one of the State Security headquarters.
A number of Facebook pages were created ahead of Mustafa’s trial in solidarity with the activist.
“Prison cannot change ideas. Force cannot prevent a new day from dawning. Egypt’s activists cannot be silenced. The revolution was an idea, and ideas can never be killed by bullets. Rights will not be disregarded or marginalised anymore,” stated one blogger.
Nawara Negm, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Bothaina Kamel and Mahinour Al-Masri were among the high profile activists to take part in the Alexandria solidarity demonstrations. They were joined by the parents of many of those killed, including the mother of Khaled Said. Many of the demonstrators complained that little had changed since Mubarak was forced from office and that under the new regime of the Muslim Brotherhood security forces and the courts were adopting the same tactics that eventually led to Mubarak’s ouster.
Scores of protesters marched around the Mediterranean city. The main demonstration headed from the Mansheya Court Complex towards Mustafa’s house in Muharram Bek. Another march began in front of the Universities Complex in Sooter and headed for Mansheya. Protests were held on the same day in Cairo, Damanhour, Kafr Al-Dawar and Mahalla.
Activist Abdel-Aziz Al-Shenawi told Al-Ahram Weekly that “Mustafa has spent his life struggling against corrupt systems.”
“He was first arrested in 2008 when he demonstrated in solidarity with 6 April strikes called for by Mahalla workers.”
“It is not the first time activists are detained while those who murder protesters remain free,” says Asser Mattar, a writer and a media advisor who joined the protesters without knowing Mustafa personally. “The regime is the same. Injustice prevails.”
“Mustafa has been imprisoned for just insulting a prosecutor. Is this fair? Should this sick kid have been allowed to die of mistreatment in jail?” asks Mansheya resident Ahmed Saber.
“Mustafa is the one who pushed forward Khaled Said’s case. He is the one who photographed him,” said Negm. “There is irony in him appearing in court on the day of the new Mubarak trial.”
“An entire generation is being detained because they are battling for freedom,” says Al-Masri. “The vicious circle has yet to be broken.”

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