Brotherhood children launch ‘Children for Freedom’ movement

Children of detained Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members gathered at the Al Azhar Park and called on Egyptian authorities to observe human rights on last week.

They used the event to launch of the “Children for Freedom” campaign.

The event brought together some of the children of more than 300 Brotherhood members who have been detained in recent months in a security crackdown some say is the worst in a decade.

Organizers say the children miss their parents and want the state to release them.

In a statement which appeared on the Muslim Brotherhood website, Supreme Guide Mohammed Mahdy Akef applauded the children’s bravery.

“They [are] … seeking and demanding one thing: freedom for their loved ones and care-givers, the Muslim Brotherhood leaders who were detained by the Egyptian autocratic regime,” he said. “These youngsters did not fear the central security soldiers who surrounded the court in which their fathers were standing trial; they insisted on attending these trials to express their anger at the Egyptian authorities.”

Zahraa El-Shater, 29, is the lead organizer in the children’s movement and its oldest member. She is the daughter of Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat El-Shater, one of the 24 members of the Brotherhood who have been referred to military tribunals.

The families of the other 22 members were present as well.

“The idea of establishing the Association of Children For Freedom emerged due to the circumstances and incidents that the children faced,” said Zahraa.  “We thought of establishing an association for the children of the detainees to make them vent their feelings, defend their issues and their natural right to demand the release of their fathers.”

The detentions have brought politics crashing into these children’s lives, and many have been left with nagging questions about the charges against their parents and the police brutality that they have often witnessed.

According to Brotherhood advisor Ibrahim El Houdaiby, the Brotherhood hoped that a day in the park would be a source of stress relief.

“Police officers come to their homes at night and make threats against their families,” he said. “They have to go to court or to prison to visit their parents. They have to read and hear what the state media outlets are saying about their families. So we brought these children out for the day because we wanted them to see some happiness again.”

El-Shater’s husband, Ayman Abdul Ghany, and father are both currently awaiting military tribunals.

The 24 men were originally charged with supplying Al Azhar students with weapons and combat training after television footage appeared to show young Brotherhood members training in paramilitary style during a university protest last December.

A Cairo criminal court acquitted the men of all charges on Jan. 20, although the Brotherhood plaintiffs were all arrested again on the same charges before they were allowed to leave the courthouse that day. They were later referred to military courts, where they will be tried without the chance for an appeal.

Brotherhood sources told The Daily Star Egypt that El-Shater and the others are to be tried before Judge Adel Abdel Salam Gomaa.

Gomaa achieved notoriety as the judge who handed down prison sentences both former Presidential hopeful and Al Ghad Party Chairman Ayman Nour and democracy activist professor Saad Eddin Ibrahim.


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