By Jihad Abaza
Egyptian security forces arrested activist Safwan Mohamed on Sunday outside the Two Saints Church in Alexandria for carrying a bag with a “No Military Trials for Civilians” pin.
Mohamed is a founding member of Al-Dostour party, and is known in Alexandrian activist circles for partaking in protests since before the 25 January Revolution.
Mohamed’s lawyer, Mohamed Hafez, said that Mohamed is currently held at the Al Montaza police station, and is scheduled to face prosecution on Monday to investigate charges.
Sara Al-Sherif, a member of the No Military Trials for Civilians group, said that Mohamed was first charged with violating the Protest Law, but the charge has changed to “offending a military officer, and chanting against the military and the police”. The official charges are to be announced during prosecution.
“There is nothing in the law against carrying pins,” she said. “Now, anyone who speaks up about the revolution or anything that has happened over the past three years or about the No Military Trials for Civilians group is subjected to arrest.”
“Safwan did not commit a crime, and neither does anyone who asks for a just demand. No to military trials is a just demand,” she added.
Mohamed was a member of the National Association for Change, founded in 2010 under Mohamed ElBaradei, and is a member of the executive office of the movement “Lazem”, which also calls for “democracy and social justice”. He was active during the early days of the uprising, and ran against Al-Nour Party’s Abdel Moneim ElShahat and lawyer Mohamed Dwidar in the 2011 parliamentary elections.
Mohamed Fouda, also a member of the No Military Trials for Civilians group said: “What happened was that [Safwan] discussed the pin with the officer who stopped him and this discussion led to his arrest. This is proof that there is no freedom of opinion or expression and that the state wants us to confirm to its own views.”
Fouda added: “Even the new constitution legalises military trials for civilians. It is unacceptable for speaking up against military trials to turn into a charge.”
Al-Sherif said: “This has been the scenario since the dispersal of the protest in front of the Shura council until the arrest of Safwan yesterday.” The protest, which took place in front of the Shura Coucil building last November, demanded an end to military trials for civilians. Dozens of protesters were arrested and charged with blocking roads and protesting without a permit.