• July 24, 2009

Three bloggers detained, says rights group

Three bloggers detained, says rights group

Two Muslim Brotherhood bloggers were detained at Cairo International Airport as they returned to Egypt on Wednesday. Another Islamist blogger was taken from his home earlier that morning, according to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

Madgy Sa”ad, author of the blog “Yalla Mesh Mohem” (Who Cares) and Abd El Rahman Ayyash, of the blog “Al-Ghareeb” (The Stranger) were detained at the airport Wednesday night. The two bloggers were returning from Turkey, where they had attended a conference led by an Islamist preacher.

Sa”ad and Ayyash “are generally considered to be moderates and interested in engaging with other non-Islamist bloggers,” says blogger The Arabist of the blog arabist.net. “They also reflect some of the internal debates taking place among Islamists, especially young Islamists.”

Sa”ad is reportedly being held at State Security Police Head Quarters on Lazoughli Street. Ayyash has been taken to the State Security police office in Mansoura.

Ahmed Abu Khalil, of the blog “Al-Bayareq,” was taken from his home at dawn on Wednesday. In addition to his arrest, his entire collection of books has been confiscated. Khalil, who identifies himself as an Islamist, is speculated to be held in the Nasr City State Security headquarters.

There is currently no known reason for the bloggers” detentions.

Gamal Eid, chairperson of the ANHRI says that the detention of Ayyash and Sa”ad constitutes “a kind of kidnapping.”

ANHRI had contacted the Airport Authority regarding the detention of the two Muslim Brotherhood bloggers. According to Eid, the Airport Authority said they had nothing to do with the detentions and that the matter was being handled by State Security.

“State Security has become very active recently,” says blogger Wael Abbas.

“They have been arresting hundreds of Muslim Brothers and Shia, in addition to other activists.”

Abbas himself was detained at the airport on June 30 as he returned to Egypt after attending a conference in Sweden. “I was told that my name appeared on a State Security list when I came back from abroad,” he says.

“I was never stopped like this in the airport before.”

The past month has seen an increase in arrests by State Security. In addition to Sa”ad, Ayyash, Abu Khalil, and Abbas, blogger Ahmed Salah was also detained at the airport on July 18.

Furthermore,  nine Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested in past weeks on various charges, including belonging to an illegal group, terrorism, and money laundering.

“Some people say it has to do with the transfer of power,” says Abbas.

Others say the arrests and detentions are a reaction to the growing role of bloggers. “The number of detained bloggers is increasing because the bloggers’ influence on politics and civil society is increasing,” says Dalia Ziada, blogger and regional director of the American Islamic Congress.

Though the reason behind the crackdown is not immediately clear, the increase in the number of arrests in June and July is apparent.

The Arabist says that the detentions of bloggers are particularly worrying.

“These people are detained without charges against them, which is only possible under the Emergency Law,” he says.

“You open newspapers and everyday there is news about detention of Shia “terrorists,” “Hizbollah agents,” Muslim Brothers, Bahais, bloggers, strikers,” says blogger Hossam El-Hamalawy. “Which group has the state not cracked down on yet?”

Other Topics:

Ayyash Ikhwanweb”s Articals
AbdelRahman”s English Blog
Abdel Rahman Ayyash

Egypt loves their bloggers – in handcuffs that is | Menassat
Abdel Ayyash – WikiName
Abdel Rahman Ayyash
Freedom for Egypt”s Bloggers الحرية للمدونين المصريين at 3arabawy
Crackdown on Egypt”s Islamist bloggers | The Arabist
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information