Socialist Worker

Mubarak steps up repression

Issue No. 2001

About 50 people picketed the Egyptian embassy in London last Saturday against the continuing arrests and beatings of democracy activists in the cities of Cairo and Alexandria.

The protest, called by the Committee of Support for Egyptian Judges (CSEJ), comes as support builds for an international day of action on 25 May.

On Thursday 11 May, Egyptian opposition activists faced another wave of repression.

Over 10,000 riot police and state security forces swamped Cairo to prevent further demonstrations outside the high court where two pro-reform judges, Mahmud Mekki and Hisham Bastawisi, face censure for exposing ballot rigging in last November’s elections.

Police attempted to halt supporters of the judges from reaching the court house.

They attacked protesters from the Kifaya (“Enough”) movement, opposition parties and the Muslim Brotherhood as they gathered at the Groppi coffee shop, the Ramsis phone company and al-Fateh mosque – traditional meeting places for opponents to the regime.

One witness told Human Right’s Watch, “I saw state security snatching people, beating them with their fists, kicking them, punching them in the stomach, slapping them hard on the back of the neck – a very insulting thing for Egyptians. They were dragging people by their arms along the street.”

Journalists, including reporters from Al Jazeera, the Associated Press and Newsweek, were not spared.

Abir el-Askari, a correspondent for el-Dostour weekly, was kidnapped on the morning of the protest. She was held for several hours at Sayeda Zeinab police station where she was stripped and beaten before being dumped outside a hospital.

Meanwhile in Alexandria, police dispersed a demonstration by the Muslim Brotherhood outside the Judges’ Club and turned away cars heading to the protest.

A number professors were arrested as they attempted to board a train for the capital at Alexandria train station, while their colleagues at the University of Cairo staged a campus protest.

Democracy activists estimate that over 500 people have been arrested since the protests began in April. More protests are planned for Thursday of this week.

The new round of repression came as Gamal Mubarak, son of the Egyptian president and heir apparent, made a secret visit to Washington.

While there, he was warmly received by US vice-president Dick Cheney.

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Sat 20 May 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2001
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