November 2, 2011
The jailed Egyptian revolutionary Alaa Abd El Fattah has written a secret letter from his prison cell, accusing the country’s military rulers of murder and lamenting what he views as the army’s hijacking of the revolution.
The piece, produced covertly from inside Bab El-Khalq prison where Abd El Fattah is being held, was handed to his heavily pregnant wife, Manal, during a visit on Monday. It is being published in Arabic by the Egyptian newspaper Al Shorouk and in English by the Guardian, and is likely to intensify the growing divisions between Egypt’s increasingly repressive army junta and pro-change activists on the street.
Abd El Fattah, one of Egypt’s most prominent anti-regime voices and a former political prisoner under the Mubarak dictatorship, was taken into military custody on Sunday evening following public criticisms of the army’s conduct on the night of 9 October, when at least 27 people were killed during a Coptic Christian protest march in downtown Cairo.
Like many other activists, Abd El Fattah accused the army of direct involvement in the bloodshed, a claim that appears to be supported by extensive eyewitness reports and video footage. He was charged by military prosecutors with “inciting violence against the army”, and is being held initially for 15 days – a detention period that can be renewed indefinitely by the authorities. His arrest has provoked outrage across the Middle East and beyond.