Activists in Egypt have called for international protests over jail sentences handed down to leading socialist and human rights lawyer Mahienour el-Massry and other detainees last Sunday.
Revolutionary Socialists Mahienour and Youssef Shaaban along with Loay El-Kahwagy were sentenced to 15 months each after appealing against two-year sentences.
The case centres on a protest about police treatment of a lawyer in an Alexandria police station in March 2013. The police claim Mahienour and other lawyers and supporters stormed Raml police station and assaulted police.
Revolutionary Socialist Gigi Ibrahim was in Alexandria for the hearing to bring solidarity to the detainees with around 100 other activists, both local and from Cairo.
She told Socialist Worker, “The lawyers do their best to fight within the legal system. They will launch appeals. For example Youssef and Loay were not even brought to court to hear their sentences. So that can be challenged.
“But this case is nothing to do with evidence or legal procedure. This is political.”
Gigi said that the judge refused to allow family and supporters into the court when Mahienour was brought in. Officials even tried to stop Mahienour’s family from seeing her.
The court building was full of police and military officers. But supporters refused to be intimidated.
“We pinned up pictures of Mahienour and other detainees on the walls and we had T-shirts with their pictures on,” said Gigi.
Mahienour’s lawyers reported that she was defiant in court. She said. “Let them jail me, we will win out in the end.”
When the judge announced his sentence, she called out as she was being taken back to the cells, “Mubarak jailed revolutionaries and he has been thrown out! Mursi detained revolutionaries and he was thrown out! Down with military rule!”
Outside supporters, led by Ranwa, Youssef’s wife, took up the chant “the revolution continues”.
Mahienour is a high profile revolutionary activist in Egypt and internationally who has led opposition to every repressive regime from Mubarak to today. She has already served four months in another case where she was arrested under laws banning protests.
She campaigned for the release of many women she met in prison who were there simply because they were poor, including raising money to help pay off debts.
Now women that Mahienour has helped ask her sisters how they can help her.
Gigi said “She has made an impact on so many people, they say to us ‘Mahienour is amazing, she helped my family, what can we do?’”
But she added, “It is tough at the moment with several leading revolutionaries in jail. We need international outcry.
“Solidarity is the only weapon we have. That is what got Mahienour released before. We need it now more than ever.”