Egypt cracks down hard on Gaza protesters

Egyptian blogger and peace activist Philip Rizk was released without charge Feb. 11, four days after he was abducted immediately after he took part in a march in support of Gaza. He reports he was blindfolded, handcuffed and interrogated around the clock by state security agents while in detention. The German government and legions of former and current classmates and professors mobilized an online campaign for the release of Rizk, a dual Egyptian-German citizen who studied at Wheaton College in Illinois and is a graduate student at American University in Cairo.

But Diaa Eddin Gad, another blogger arrested the same day as Rizk, remains in detention. Four police officers grabbed him as he stepped outside the door of his family’s apartment, and his mother says she fears for his life. (NYT, Feb. 12)

Also the days of Rizk’s release, an Egyptian opposition lawmaker was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of crossing into the Gaza Strip for humanitarian activities. The defendant, Magdy Ahmed Hussein of the Labor party, was also fined 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($900) by a military court.

Hussein was detained by Egyptian security services last month when he crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip. Egyptian officials said Hussein was carrying no papers other than a driving license when he tried to return to Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, and had likely corssed into Gaza through an illegal tunnel. The government suspended the activities of Hussein’s party in 2000, due to its alleged links with the Muslim Brotherhood. (Press TV, Feb. 11)

See our last posts on Egypt, Cairo’s crackdown on bloggers, the Gaza aggression and the politics of cyberspace.