It was reported earlier this month that the Egyptian military was taking over the investigation of its massacre of Christian protesters from a civilian prosecutor, and Human Rights Watch has warned of an impending cover-up. The inversion of well-documented reality described in this report alone puts Orwell’s Minitrue to shame.
“Egypt military jails dissident over Coptic clashes,” by Samer al-Atrush for Agence France-Presse, October 30:
Egypt’s ruling military jailed a veteran dissident and blogger on charges of inciting deadly clashes between soldiers and Christians this month, his sister and a fellow activist said.
Alaa Abdel Fatah, who was jailed for his activism under ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s government in 2006, was remanded in custody for 15 days, said his sister Mona Seif, who is also a leading opponent of military trials.
The prosecutor may choose to formally refer him to a military court or release him.
Abdel Fatah’s detention came days after US President Barack Obama called on Egypt’s military to lift a state of emergency and end military trials for civilians.
Bahaa Saber, another activist who faces the same charges but was not detained, said he and Abdel Fatah were charged with inciting attacks against soldiers and participating in the October 9 clashes in Cairo.
Coptic Christians were protesting against an attack on a church when clashes broke out with soldiers outside the state television’s building. Twenty-five people died in the violence, most of them Copts.
Witnesses said soldiers fired upon protesters and ran them over with armoured cars, accusations the military has denied. The military said a number of its soldiers died in the clashes but has refused to give a toll.
If that is the currently official line, it is a reversal. State television recanted claims of casualties among soldiers that were used at the time to incite Muslims to take to the streets against Christians.
“We are charged with inciting attacks against soldiers and participating in them,” said Saber.
What, did bifurcating a human torso scratch a military vehicle?
Saber said he and Abdel Fatah attended the military prosecutor’s summons on Sunday “convinced that the military has no right to intervene in judicial matters,” and they refused to answer the prosecutor’s questions.
“It was humiliating and unacceptable,” he said. “This is an unjust escalation by the military. I will not be silenced nor intimidated, and I don’t think people will be silent either.”
The military has tried thousands of civilians since it took charge of the country after Mubarak’s ouster on February 11, in trials rights groups say are unfair and result in harsh sentences.
Saber said the pair’s lawyers were not allowed to see the military prosecution’s evidence.
Seif said several people, including a journalist and a blogger who opposes the uprising that ousted Mubarak, had filed complaints against her brother.
The blogger, who calls himself Ahmed Spider, posted on YouTube an interview with Abdel Fatah that he said led to the military prosecutor’s charges.
The video shows Abdel Fatah at a protest saying he wanted to “cut off the military’s hand” and threatening to storm the interior ministry.
How this leads to and explains the events of October 9, the military will likely not discuss.
Saber questioned the military’s impartiality in investigating the deadly clash, given its role in the incident.
Military spokesmen were not immediately available for comment, but top generals have denied that soldiers killed any demonstrators and blamed a plot by “enemies of the people.”