Africa, Politics

A brief look: Egyptian blogger detained for Facebook update

By Khadija Patel 15 August 2011

What every one of us considers our unalienable right, to update our own Facebook page, got a young Egyptian arrested. That would be the same Facebook that, with Twitter, was the main communication channel during Egypt's rise against President Mubarak. By KHADIJA PATEL.

Twenty six year old Egyptian blogger Asmaa Mahfouz has faced an Egyptian military prosecutor after she was called in for questioning for posting this comment on Facebook:  “If the judiciary doesn’t give us our rights, nobody should be surprised if militant groups appear and conduct a series of assassinations because there is no law and there is no judiciary. As long as there is no law and there is no justice, anything can happen, and nobody should be upset.” AFP reports the head of the military judicial authority, Major General Mahmud Morsi, said the blogger had overstepped the limits of free speech by insulting the military.

Egypt’s interim government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), are tiring of dissent, using a heavy hand against protests against the speed of reform. A number of activists have so far been detained by SCAF for criticising the military government, but they are usually released without being charged. Mahfouz’s case marks the first time charges have been brought against an activist for comments made on social media under the transitional military government. Mahfouz was detained and later released on a bail of $3,356.

She is alleged to have called for assassination attacks against the military and judicial bodies and defamed the military government. Following her release, Mahfouz told the Egyptian daily “Al-Masry Al-Youm” that she had been interrogated for three hours and had denied all the charges against her. “There is no truth in these accusations, I was only warning the military council that the absence of justice will lead to chaos,” she is reported to have said.

Mahfouz’s arrest has angered Egyptian activists calling for an end to military trials for civilians in post-revolution Egypt. Mahfouz was one of the leaders of the January uprising that ultimately ousted President Hosni Mubarak, and is determined that her brush with the law will not deter her activism. “I am not scared, I will not be silenced, and I will continue to take to the streets and criticise any wrongdoing that I see,” she said. DM

Read more:

  • Egypt activist charged with inciting violence in Al Jazeera;
  • Asmaa Mahfouz, Egyptian youth activist, is charged by military prosecutor in Washington Post;
  • One of Egypt uprising’s leaders charged in Financial Times.

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