CAIRO: Facebook activist Esraa Abdel Fattah was released from Al-Qanater women’s prison on Wednesday night after Minister of Interior Habib El-Adly issued a special release order.
Abdel Fattah was arrested on April 7 for allegedly masterminding the April 6 general strike by creating a group on Facebook calling for people to protest the hikes in food prices.
In an exclusive interview with Orbit satellite channel’s daily talk show Al-Qahira Al-Youm conducted just as she was released, Abdel Fattah described her 16 days behind bars.
I ate three meals, prayed, read the Quran and thanked God everyday for keeping me safe inside prison; no one laid a finger on me. They treated me well so I was asking myself if I m being treated this way then why did they arrest me in the first place?’
When Amr Adib, Al-Qahira Al-Youm’s host, asked her whether she will go on Facebook when she gets home, Abdel Fattah replied in measured words, I don’t think so. Abdel Fattah along with another woman and 21 men received a detainment order from the Ministry of Interior Affairs for an unspecified period of time.
Her discharge was sudden, as observers were expecting it to happen after May 4, when another general strike is scheduled to happen, as being promoted on Facebook.
Amir Salem, Abdel Fattah’s lawyer had told Daily News Egypt in a previous interview that he did not expect her to be released and saw it likely that she would be found guilty and receive a jail sentence.
He added that the government was looking for anyone to blame for the protests that have been taking place across the country by workers in different sectors over the last few months.
The detention of Abdel Fattah had created a media frenzy and charged public opinion against the government.
Releasing Esraa is a move in the right direction, her detention was sending out a message to the youth warning them that if they express their opinions they will be at risk of being arrested, said Hassan Abou Taleb, a researcher at Al Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies.
It s illogical to monitor the internet, because we are living in the internet era and if they do that then they will be following old policies that can never be applicable in today s world, he added.
Many people used the internet to call for the release of Abdel Fattah and the other detainees. A group on Facebook, Release Esraa and her companions which was created by people from Egypt and Canada, was joined by more than 1,900 people and has posts in three languages, English, Arabic and German.
Abdel Fattah is a member of Al-Ghad party but sources inside the party said that she was not one of the most politically active members of the party, as she was more interested in educational and cultural activities.