Socialist Worker

Solidarity campaign wins release of Revolutionary Socialist in Egypt

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2369

Haitham leaving Suez prison

Haitham preparing to leave the Suez jail where he was detained by state security forces (Pic: Gigi Ibrahim)

Egyptian Revolutionary Socialist and labour lawyer Haitham Mohammedain was released with no bail from police custody late on Saturday. He was defiant as activists met to welcome him back to Cairo on Sunday evening. “I have been released thanks to the pressure of all those who stood in solidarity with me, not just in Egypt, but internationally across the world.” he said.

There was so much publicity and protest about his arrest that the very first question in his formal interrogation was, “Who is Haitham Mohammedain? Everyone is talking about you.” 

Solidarity

Wassim Wagdy spoke to Socialist Worker from Cairo, “The solidarity Haitham received was stunning. “Many industrial workers came on the protests.” Wassim added, “many different workers have been publishing statements of solidarity with Haitham.” In Egypt, protests at Haitham’s arrest took place in Cairo, Alexandria, Feyoum, Port Said and Suez. Internationally, lawyers and activists signed protest letters and across the region activists in Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and Syria sent their support.

But Haitham still has charges pending. He was arrested when police stopped the public transport micro bus he was travelling on. He was on his way to meet a group of workers in Suez who had asked him to represent them. The police commented on the fact he has a beard and they asked him if he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was taken off the bus and showed police his lawyer’s ID. 

In his bag he had documents showing he had been part of the 30 June demonstrations against Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi. He also had materials showing his support for the campaign against the military take over after Mursi’s fall. This was enough for him to be fully searched and an army officer brought in. Haitham was then taken into custody in a Suez police station and faced interrogation by the prosecutor.

Investigation

The cell for political prisoners was full of Brotherhood supporters so he was put in with people accused of ordinary crimes. The four metres by four metres cell held 42 other prisoners—everyone only had room to sleep on their side. Haitham spent the night answering questions about socialism and politics. He now faces investigation and trial by the higher state security prosecution office.

Haitham said, “It was a political arrest so I gave them a political defence.” Three hours of his interrogation was solely about the Revolutionary Socialists (RS). The interrogator asked what method of change the RS believe in, what their position on the current regime was and what did they stand for.

“He is being accused of being in a secret organisation, one that advocates ‘a certain class’ should have supremacy in Egypt. They couldn’t bring themselves to actually say ‘the working class,’” said Wassim. “He was also accused of receiving funding from foreign sources and plotting to topple the social system,” he went on.

The military crack down has so far focused on the Brotherhood, security forces massacred hundreds of Brotherhood supporters when they demonstrated for Mursi’s reinstatement last month. The RS took part in the 30 June marches against Mursi. But they have been part of a small minority of revolutionary forces who have courageously stood out against the military take over since Mursi’s fall. This exposes them to the increasing attention of state security forces which have been more confident since managing to co-opt sections of the revolutionary movement in their support.

Haitham’s charges show the danger that the state may now target the left and the importance of solidarity both in Egypt and across the world.   


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