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Egyptian Blogger Sentenced to 15 Years For Organizing Protest 70

Posted by timothy
from the very-heaven dept.
The Guardian reports that Alaa Abd El Fattah, "one of the activists most associated with the 2011 uprising that briefly ended 60 years of autocratic rule, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for allegedly organising a protest – an act banned under a law implemented last November, and used to jail several revolutionary leaders. ... Abd El Fattah was also jailed under Mubarak, the military junta that succeeded him, and Adly Mansour, the interim president installed after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last summer. Under Morsi, Abd El Fattah escaped prison, but was placed under investigation." The EFF points ou that Abd El Fattah "is one of many caught up in the Egyptian government’s attempt to assert powers. Alaa set an example for how the Internet could be used to organize and exercise free speech: Egypt's leaders should not be permitted to make an example of him to silence others." Update: 06/12 20:02 GMT by T : Reader Mostafa Hussein points out that Abd El Fattah took part in a Slashdot interview more than 10 years ago, too; it gives some insight into the tech scene (and a bit of the politics) of Egypt at that time.
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Egyptian Blogger Sentenced to 15 Years For Organizing Protest

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  • The progressive leaders and instigators of unrest and revolution are always attacked afterwards. Look at the Irish War for Independence, the Iranian Cultural Revolution, the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, the list goes on.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      More generally, the losers are always demonized and the winners write what goes in the history books. It doesn't matter if this guy helped to organize things since the party that took over is equal to, or worse than the government they overthrew, thus he's on the side of the losers.

    • Yeah, and not to derail into an unpopular political argument, but I thought Arab spring was a remarkable warning against the idea of revolutionary solutions to democratic problems. You can always get a worse system of government as the result of a revolution, and you should be exceedingly careful about throwing off the shackles of a temporarily unpleasant democratic government through violent revolution.

      That's not the contentious derail part: the derail part is how negatively that reality reflects on the 2

      • by Yakasha (42321)

        That's not the contentious derail part: the derail part is how negatively that reality reflects on the 2nd amendment and its support in the US.

        Nah. The problem with the 2nd Amendment argument (for or against) is that nobody making the big arguments is considering the rest of the Constitution. Any one part of the Constitution can be used, by itself, in support or against that particular clause, to fuck people up. The entire document is supposed to be used in full.

        The 2nd Amendment goes hand-in-hand with not having a standing army. But we have one, imho in violation of the Constitution, which has now warped the 2nd Amendment into one of personal

  • What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:50AM (#47222585)

    that briefly ended 60 years of autocratic rule

    Haven't we learned from Syria and Iraq that autocratic rule is better than Muslim rule. During the brief Islamic rule of Egypt non-Muslims were killed, raped, burned out of homes and places of worship [huffingtonpost.com]. Yes, they are a bit hard on this blogger - but lets not forget what the movement he supported stood for.

    • by cpghost (719344)
      I very seldom agree with your islamophobic comments, but on this point, you're absolutely right. Autocratic rule is much better for minorities, but also for moderate muslims, than a theocracy imposed by muslim brothers or similar sects like ISIS. This, Obama's administration doesn't understand (yet), and keeps pushing islamism on muslim-majority countries that would better be left alone, as they know better how to deal with their demons.
      • by NotDrWho (3543773)

        That's because the predominant narrative in the U.S. since the beginning of the Cold War has been that a combination of democracy and capitalism is some sort of cure-all for every country's ills.

        They're not. Just ask the people of Iraq if they're better off with democracy today than they were with a autocratic dictator.

    • Americans prefer autocratic rule for the Middle East because any democratic Muslim country would be anti-American.

    • that briefly ended 60 years of autocratic rule

      Haven't we learned from Syria and Iraq that autocratic rule is better than Muslim rule. During the brief Islamic rule of Egypt non-Muslims were killed, raped, burned out of homes and places of worship [huffingtonpost.com]. Yes, they are a bit hard on this blogger - but lets not forget what the movement he supported stood for.

      You're talking about a very specific sect of Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims do not support what these groups are doing but it's hard to argue with someone when their form of argument involves stoning you to death. Basically relating the two is like relating the KKK, Nazis or other turn of the century fascist regimes to Christianity. Yes, they may have claimed to have been a part of it, but they in no way represent the religion as a whole. There are plenty of Majority Muslim countries in the world tha

      • by NotDrWho (3543773)

        Yes, but unlike the KKK's version of Christianity, radical Islam seems to be spreading today--fast. Forty years ago, or even twenty years ago, I would certainly have accepted that radical Islam was a relatively insignificant and obscure movement within the religion as a whole. Today, with radical numbers, influence, and power growing rapidly every year, I'm not so sure I buy that anymore.

        • Yes, but unlike the KKK's version of Christianity, radical Islam seems to be spreading today--fast. Forty years ago, or even twenty years ago, I would certainly have accepted that radical Islam was a relatively insignificant and obscure movement within the religion as a whole. Today, with radical numbers, influence, and power growing rapidly every year, I'm not so sure I buy that anymore.

          But you have no numbers. You just have what's on the news, which is being exaggerated by our media to get more viewers and exaggerated by our government to get us to allow them more power and weapons. Just like the problems we had in the 1950s were used by the FBI to extend their own powers. There are a LOT of Muslims in this country... why aren't they blowing things up in the home of the great Satan? Because when given opportunity, jobs, education, they are no different than the rest of us. If you stuck ou

          • by NotDrWho (3543773)

            Watching one moderate regime after another in the middle east either falling completely, or having to fight a nasty civil war to survive, is pretty convincing evidence that this ain't no minor fluke. Even secular stalwart Turkey is has been swung hard towards [bbc.com] becoming an Islamist state in recent years.

            But you can keep telling yourself whatever you wish.

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      I think North Koreans would disagree with you on that claim. As would Germans under Hitler (as well as a big chunk of the rest of the world's population). A whole list of countries and people under Stalin, of which Russia and Russians where just another bunch of victims. Chinese under Mao. Chileans under Pinochet. Then there was a whole world of feudal serfs under many different monarchists. The list just goes on and on and on.

      So regardless of the brand, whether religious, ideological, monarchist or corp

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Organized a protest in 2011.
    Ban on protests signed into law in November 2013.
    Get put away for 15 years?

    If I clap my hands today, and handclapping becomes illegal tomorrow, will I get put away for 15 years too?

    • Ex post facto protections aren't a god-given privilege.

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        They however are against The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and Arab Charter on Human Rights, with Egypt being signers on the first two but not the third yet.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:04AM (#47222705) Homepage

    Egypt's leaders should not be permitted to make an example of him to silence others.

    While I don't disagree with the sentiment, I would point out that Egypt isn't the US and the protections and institutions available to us are not available to Egyptians. This does point out, yet again, the problem with the 'Arab Spring' or any rapid move to a rule-of-law, marginally democratic republic: you need strong political, legal and financial institutions for all of that to work. You have virtually none of that in the Arab world.

    How you get from a military theocracy to some sort of representative and stable government is a question that has yet to be answered.

    • Re:Note to EFF (Score:4, Informative)

      by cpghost (719344) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:08AM (#47222727) Homepage

      How you get from a military theocracy to some sort of representative and stable government is a question that has yet to be answered.

      Well, for Egypt, the question is rather to choose between an autocratic military regime on one side, and an autocratic theocracy on the other side.

      • Re:Note to EFF (Score:4, Interesting)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:17AM (#47222797) Homepage

        Well, for Egypt, the question is rather to choose between an autocratic military regime on one side, and an autocratic theocracy on the other side.

        This particular blogger was advocating the 3rd option ... a democratically elected, representative government which didn't impose one religion or another on the populace, treat that one as the law of the land, and the oppress the minorities.

        Many many Egyptians are pushing for that.

    • Re:Note to EFF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:14AM (#47222775) Homepage

      Yes, they are a bit hard on this blogger - but lets not forget what the movement he supported stood for.

      Indeed, let's not do that [wikipedia.org].

      He wasn't in favor of Islamic rule. He was against the oppressive regime. Toppling that led to a newly formed brand new oppressive regime, not of his making or support. The Muslim Brotherhood was subsequently elected.

      So let's make damned sure we're not accusing him of something he didn't do.

      In his own words [democracynow.org]:

      ALAA ABD EL FATTAH: Yes. That was on the 9th of October. There was a big march planned by several movements that were born out of the Coptic Christian community, basically protesting, you know, sectarian strife, violence against churches or, you knowâ"and also laws that restrict building or renovating churches. So, and it was a peaceful march, and it was quite big. I mean, I think it was like the biggest march to focus on the Coptic issues, you know, maybe 20,000 or 30,000. They marched from a popular neighborhood called Shubra, and the plan was to get just right here, behind me, to surround the Maspero building, which is where the state broadcast, radio and TV, broadcasts from. I think the symbolism around Maspero is that state media have always been, you know, downplaying the role of Christians and any other minorities in Egypt, but also have been downplaying the reality of sectarian strife in the country.

      It was a peaceful march. They were supposed to just spend one hour in front of the building and then leave. But before they reached the building, they were attacked by the military. Three armed personnel carriers drove through the crowds, killing 17 people, and then live bullets were used against the protesters. Most of the protesters fled the scene. Many were injured. Around 28 people died. Then they started resisting. They started breaking the pavement and resisting the military with rocks and clubs or, you know, anything that they could get their hands on.

      During that time, the media crackdown operationâ"there was a media crackdown operation by the military. Also they actually invaded a couple of buildings where independent TV channels were trying to cover the events live. The state broadcaster was showing a completely different picture. They started from the reaction. They started from the resistance, showing Christian protesters attacking the military. And then they started making false claims that tens of officers have been killed, and so on, in what appeared toâ"in what appears to have been a plan to incite sectarian strife. They were basically practically asking Muslims to come down and protect the army and attack any Christians that they find in the streets.

      And yet you seem to be insinuating he was some kind of militant Islamist ... when nothing could be further from the truth.

      Protesting an unjust regime and ending up with another isn't his damned fault.

      Seriously, check your damned facts and at least know WTF you're talking about. Otherwise you just sound like some random idiot spouting random things -- which in this case are completely false.

      But, hey, maybe you're an American and therefore in favor of bombing civilians if they're dumb enough to be near the people they actually want to kill. At which point, why should your citizens be exempt from such crap?

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Crap, my apologies to the grandparent post ... Slashdot is having some issues today and I replied to the wrong post.

      • "Protesting an unjust regime and ending up with another isn't his damned fault."

        Yes, it is. It was entirely predictable the MB would get into power after Mubarak. It's what everyone said would happen, and happen it did. Darlings of the Left like the blogger are so obsessed with Having The Revolution that they scarcely think what will happen afterwards. Then, it becomes, "Oops, we didn't think about that, our hearts were in the right place, forgive us, mea culpa."

    • Re:Note to EFF (Score:4, Informative)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:18AM (#47222807) Homepage Journal

      How you get from a military theocracy to some sort of representative and stable government is a question that has yet to be answered.

      If the US is any guide, you need a couple hundred years of near-anarchy conditions to get the people used to self-determination, self-ownership, and self-responsibility. Then, if they accept a govenment, they'll put strong restrictions on it (whether those are honored is another matter). Colonial America wasn't pure anarchy, but compared to most of the regions of the world today, it was pretty close.

      Given modern communications, that couple hundred years might not be necessary, though there are limits to generations' flexibility and those generations have lengthened, not shortened.

      Colonial America wasn't perfect, but the oppression of a strong military certainly isn't better.

      • I actually think that British colonial rule is what set up the US to be a democracy. The revolutionary US population had lived for several generations under a parliamentary democracy, with strong rights and the rule of law. When they declared their independence from Britain they naturally chose to set up a very similar system.

        Compare the experiences of former British colonies like the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand with Latin America, Liberia, Algeria, and other former colonies which rebelled aga

        • Which speaks to the point that the Arab states are unlikely to repeat those experiments. The past 60 years or so of Middle East history does not bode well for attempts to springboard off of a stable 'mother' system. Chaos begets chaos. Breaking that pattern is going to be very hard.

          In fact, looking at several thousand years of history in the region, breaking that pattern will be impossible.

          • I don't think its totally impossible, or democracy would never have started anywhere. However, you're right that history is working against the region here.

    • Egypt isn't the US, but we do provide them with a lot of weapons and financial support while we hold adversaries like Iran, North Korea, Syria or even competitors like China to a different and higher standard of human rights and justify our antagonism towards those countries partly or largely based on their human rights records.

      I don't expect the US to impose freedom and democracy around the world wherever we find tyranny, but neither do I want my tax dollars to be used to fund and arm tyrannical regimes l

    • The answer is that you need a government that is representative of the people, and has a firm grasp on the entire country. This is what happened in Ukraine, both with the Euromaidan protests that brought down Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Russian militias that are trying to push for independence in Donetsk.

      Yanukovych represented the Eastern side of Ukraine, where Russian is the biggest ethnicity. Sure, there are other groups that live there, but they're all minorities to the ethnic Russians. He cared only f

    • >How you get from a military theocracy to some sort of representative and stable government is a question that has yet to be answered.

      Most of Europe managed it.

  • It's a shame the US is more civilized than Russia or we'd just bomb them, take it over, and have 51 states. Then probably hit North Korea and Syria and every other complete asshole country where the government terrorizes and kills their own people.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Then probably hit North Korea and Syria and every other complete asshole country where the government terrorizes and kills their own people.

      No, instead the US is terrorizing and killing the people of other countries.

      How many civilians have died in drone strikes and been written off as collateral damage?

      Sorry, but Americans have lost the moral high ground on this one, because you commit war crimes and act like it's OK.

      America's definition of 'civilization' boils down to "because we said so and you can't stop

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