The detention of Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah over the weekend has brought activists back to the streets of Cairo to demand that he be released from prison.
Today, thanks to a letter smuggled out of prison and published in English by The Guardian, we can hear from the man himself about he "never expected to repeat the experience of five years ago: after a revolution that deposed the tyrant, I go back to his jails?"
"I am locked up, again pending trial, again on a set of loose and flimsy charges — the one difference is that instead of the state security prosecutor we have the military prosecutor — a change in keeping with the military moment we're living now," Fattah writes.
Alaa Abd El Fattah — as illustrated on his Twitter page.
Alaa Abd El Fattah — as illustrated on his Twitter page. Twitter.com
As the Los Angeles Times reports, "the 29-year-old blogger was ordered detained for 15 days pending an investigation by military prosecutors for his alleged role in 'inciting Coptic protesters to attack army soldiers' during an Oct. 9 protest that ended with 27 people, mostly Copts, dead and more than 300 injured."
And, the Times adds, "Fattah's case is the latest in a series of detentions for political bloggers who have run afoul of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces. Egyptians have grown increasingly angry by the use of military tribunals over civil courts. According to human rights advocates, 12,000 civilians have been detained and sentenced by the army since Mubarak stepped down."
His fellow prisoners, Fattah writes, have told him stories. From them, he says he's learned:
"The truth of the great achievements of the 'return of security' to our streets. Two of my cellmates are first-timers, ordinary young men without an atom of violence in them. And their crime? Armed gangster formations. Yes; Abu Malek alone is an armed gangster formation of one. Now I know what the ministry of the interior means when it regales us every day with news of the discovery and arrest of armed gangsters. We can congratulate ourselves on the return of security."
(H/T to NPR social media strategist Andy Carvin.)