Egyptian activists, bloggers arrested in anti-sectarianism solidarity showing

Egyptian activists, bloggers arrested in anti-sectarianism solidarity showing

 CAIRO: Activists and bloggers reveal at least 19 Egyptian bloggers and one unnamed French activist have been arrested during an attempt to show solidarity with victims of the Naga’a Hammadi shootings. Mustafa al-Naggar, a leading blogger and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, had led the mission to the southern Egyptian town in order to show support for the victims’ families.

But the Egyptian government would have none of it, arresting the bloggers upon their arrival. The visit, reportedly unpoliticized, was an attempt to show that different groups of Egyptians could come together in the face of growing sectarian tensions.

Naggar wrote that “we were cursed by the reign of an oppressive system that ruined our lives and harmony. We were robbed of our dreams and were left to suffer unemployment, fear, and deprivation.

“Egypt that was once a secure haven turned into a waste land. We are no longer safe in our homes for dawn visitors in uniforms can easily snatch us from our cribs. We are no longer secure in our streets for vagabonds and criminals can arrest us and harass our women. Today we witnessed how hitmen can easily shoot us as we finish our prayers.”

A ministry of interior told Bikya Masr that he had no information on the situation in Naga’a Hammadi, but said that if the reports are true, security was most likely “taking precautions to ensure the safety of all people in the area as sectarian tension continues.”

Other bloggers and activists expressed their dismay at the arrests. They said that the security forces had no place to arrest peaceful bloggers who were not protesting in the Upper Egyptian town. It was simply a show of solidarity that could have highlighted the need for Egyptians to come together.

“Their mission was to console the families of the victims and to take a stance against sectarianism. Upon their arrests, the officers took their IDs and mobile cell phones and they were taken in separate cars to an unknown destination,” wrote blogger Kareem el-Beheiry.

According to Ramy Raouf, a leading human rights defender and blogger, the detainees were being held in local state security offices upon their arrest. He was able to speak with one of the arrested bloggers, who told him they would be transferred to Cairo at 5 p.m. on Friday.

In response, Egyptian activists have called for an open-ended sit-in at the Journalists Syndicate in Cairo until the bloggers are released from detention.

The list of those detained included many of Egypt’s most prominent bloggers and activists, including Wael Abbas, Esraa Abdel Fattah, Ismail al-Iskandrani, Ahmed Badawy and others.

Zeinobia, another leading blogger not part of the mission, said that the bloggers are among the most prominent of citizen journalists.

“I do not understand why these bloggers have been detained,” she said in comments carried on Global Voices.