CAIRO: An Egyptian blogger and journalist Abdel Moneim Mahmoud was stopped at Cairo Airport Thursday evening and prevented from travelling from to a conference on press freedom in Morocco.
Mahmoud, who maintains the blog ana-ikhwan.blogspot.com and is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood group, describes on his blog what happened.
“My passport had been stamped with the exit stamp and I went to the waiting lounge. While I was waiting to board the plane my name was called and so I went to the information desk where a policeman took me to the airport’s state security headquarters.
This is the second time that Mahmoud has been detained while attempting to travel.
On April 15, 2007 Mahmoud was detained while travelling to Sudan. He was held for 47 days before being released.
“My passport was taken from me and a state security officer came in and began interrogating me about why I was travelling, about the organizers of the conference and about the number of times I have previously been detained.
“I remained in detention for an hour until another policeman came and took me to passport control where my exit visa was cancelled. When I asked him why he had done this, he told me that it was because I was on a state security list.
“Another officer said ‘in future before you travel go to a state security office and ask for their permission. They’ll ask you why you’re going and tell you what to say and that’s it.’
Mahmoud told Daily News Egypt that he telephoned a state security officer in Alexandria who told him to meet him next Tuesday.
He was unsure of the exact reason why he was prevented from travelling but pointed to the Muslim Brotherhood’s website Ikhwanonline.com, which is currently down.
He claims that it has been blocked by the Egyptian government.
State security officials could not be reached for comment.
“[State-controlled magazine] Rose Al-Youssef has been leading a campaign to ban the website and have all its contributors tried on charges of sullying Egypt’s reputation in a military court, Mahmoud said.
“They want even harsher sentences than those handed down to Khayrat El-Shater and others, he continued
Khayrat El-Shater and 24 other members of the officially banned but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood group were recently found guilty in a military court and sentenced to prison terms ranging between 3 and 10 years.
Mahmoud warned that the government is preparing to block the social networking website Facebook.
“The government will block Facebook because of the calls made for a general strike on April 6 and May 4 by Facebook members, he told Daily News Egypt.
“The only approach the government knows is to block and ban, he continued.
Mahmoud says that he plans to lodge a complaint about his illegal detention in the airport, and his being prevented from travelling, with the public prosecution office.
“The current regime and [Interior Minister] Habib El-Adly’s men are stupidly sullying Egypt’s image in a unique and unprecedented way, Mahmoud says on his blog.