Egypt publisher released, ElBaradei link questionable
Egypt publisher released, ElBaradei link questionable
Monday, April 5,2010 17:32
By Joseph Mayton


Muhanna is the head of the Dawn Publishing House and his company had recently published a book supporting former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief and top opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, which rights groups in the country had said was the reason for his arrest.

There was no specific indication as to why Muhanna had been arrested, although rights groups have been arguing it was due to his support for ElBaradei.

Egyptian police arrested Muhanna on Saturday over the publication and distribution of his most recent book “ElBaradei and the dream of the Green Revolution” by writer Kamal Gabriel, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said. According to witnesses, security forces combed the house of the publisher and then arrested the man before turning the place “upside down” in search of copies of the text.

The book had already been on the market for over a week before police arrived at Muhanna’s home.

AHNRI said in a press statement “the housebreaking of a publisher and arresting him for a book about ElBaradei in such ambiguous way without giving reasons or declaring charges is a serious violation of freedom of opinion and expression. It clearly shows the intention of the government to gag all dissenting voices as well as those supporting  ElBaradei and the National Assembly of change.”

The Cairo-based pan-Arabic press and media watchdog, demanded the Egyptian government stop “harassing and violating opponents’ right to freedom of opinion and expression.”

However, the Hisham Mubarak Law Center reported that Muhanna was arrested, not as a result of the ElBaradei book, but instead due to the allegations of material supported religious groups in the country.

The international and local media have been quick to pick up the story, as the ElBaradei connection has given them the much needed persona to push the story, but Ahmed Shaaban, a blogger and activist, said that it is all “speculation” as to whether the book had a direct role in the man’s arrest.

“We have seen this before, where someone says they are being treated poorly by the government because of ElBaradei support, but it turned out to be false,” he said, referring to a doctor in Fayoum, who claimed he was arrested and tortured because of his support for the Nobel Peace Prize winner. “We need to be vigilant and look at the facts before making these statements. The publisher might have been targeted for the religion connection and it just happened that he had published a book on ElBaradei the week before. We don’t know, but let’s not run to conclusions.”

ElBaradei’s office said in a statement that the arrest of the publisher was an example of the wrongs of the government, telling their supporters to get behind Muhanna and not allow government intimidation to inhibit the push toward change.

Republished with Permission from Bikya Masr