Leading Egypt dissident to stand trial on March 23

March 16, 2014 - 5:57:44 am
CAIRO: Prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah will stand trial on March 23 for allegedly participating in a violent protest, state media reported yesterday, amid concerns the military-installed regime is increasingly stifling dissent.

Abdel Fattah was a well-known activist and blogger during the 2011 uprising that overthrew strongman Hosni Mubarak, and supported the military’s ousting of Islamist president Mohammed Mursi two years later.

But he and other activists have since clashed with the new military-installed government, which has waged an extensive crackdown on both Islamists and secular activists like him.

He had been hailed as an “icon of the revolution” by the military-installed presidency after Mursi’s overthrow, before he began protesting against the new regime.

Abdel Fattah will face trial with 24 other defendants for a November protest against a clause in the constitution allowing the military to court martial civilians, the official MENA news agency reported.

Abdel Fattah is charged with assaulting a police officer during the protest, held in violation of a law that bans all but police-sanctioned demonstrations.

Three other prominent secular activists have been sentenced to three years in prison for violating the law.

In an appeal hearing last week, the activists alleged they were beaten by policemen for almost 15 minutes before they were ushered into the caged dock at the court room, prompting their lawyers to walk out in protest at their treatment.

Many liberal and leftist activists who opposed both Mubarak and Mursi now say they fear rights are being eroded by an emboldened Interior Ministry that has arrested dissidents and journalists.

Egypt is due to hold presidential elections this spring that will likely be contested and won by army chief Abdel Fattah 

Al Sisi, who has distanced himself from the practices of Mubarak’s regime.