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Today, Dr. Laila Soueif’s hunger strike enters its sixth day. I visited her on Wednesday, as supporters filled her family’s Dokki apartment to show solidarity.  Her son, activist and blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah, has been remanded in custody pending investigation into accusations of inciting violence on Oct. 9.The crackdown on thousands of peaceful protesters, which killed 27 people, is being used as an excuse to stifle voices of dissent. She stresses that her son was only imprisoned because of his activism.

At the same time, by using Alaa as a scapegoat, attention is diverted from the main issue, which is to pressure for an independent judicial investigation into the crackdown. Alaa’s father, veteran lawyer Ahmed Seif El-Islam, told me that should be the main focus, not campaigning for releasing his son.

Lawyers filed numerous complaints directly accusing army generals, holding them responsible for the violence. The military took over the case from the civilian prosecutor, but not before imposing a curfew on the same bloodied night, in what many saw as an excuse to remove any incriminating evidence.

The discussion with Seif El-Islam didn’t just cover the Maspero clashes and his son’s legal position; the lawyer calmly offered his analysis of the political situation, giving us an overview of his speculations of the country’s future.

His daughter, Mona Seif, also put her brother’s imprisonment in the larger context of the military trials of civilians, which she has been campaigning against since February. Thirty-one have been arrested in relation to the Maspero clashes, she said.

Alaa himself, in letters written behind bars and posted by his wife Manal, encourages others to look at the bigger context. He listed many initiatives he is involved in, telling readers to fill in his place and get involved.

The more I know about this family, the more I’m impressed. Their home was emanating positive energy and inspiration. And as much as I believe that we should focus on the bigger picture, this family deserves its share of attention. If only for the inspiration they provide.

For more on The Seif-Soueif  family check this video.


Or read Ahdaf Soueif’s article about the family (Arabic).

And this is my story from Wednesday.

Supporters gather in solidarity with imprisoned activist’s mother on hunger strike

CAIRO: Ahead of a planned demonstration Wednesday in solidarity with detained activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, his family showed resilience and optimism, as his mother entered her fourth day on hunger strike.

“I’m proud of Alaa,” University professor Laila Soueif told Daily News Egypt at the family’s Dokki apartment. She has always been proud of his stances, she explained, but to see the number of youth who joined a march in his support last week has made her feel even more proud of “his success.”

Abdel-Fattah, an activist and outspoken critic of the ruling military council, was remanded in custody earlier this month pending investigations into accusations of inciting violence, stealing army weapons and vandalizing military property on Oct. 9, during the Maspero events.

On Oct. 30, he refused to be questioned by the military prosecution since the army is party to the crime it is probing, and that as a civilian he should not be interrogated by the military prosecution.

Ahmed Seif El-Islam, Abdel-Fattah’s father and veteran human rights lawyer, explained that the military legal system does not give the court complete independence. The military prosecution has taken over the criminal investigation into the Maspero events, barring any civilian body from probing the deadly crackdown on the mostly Coptic protest in which 27 were either crushed by army vehicles or died of gunshot wounds.

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