Security disperses solidarity protest for alleged torture victim

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By Tamim Elyan

CAIRO: Security forces dispersed a protest held in downtown Cairo in solidarity with Sayed Belal, a suspect in the Alexandria church attack allegedly tortured to death during investigations, arresting the majority of protestors.

The protest, organized by Youth for Justice and Freedom, April 6, Free Front for Peaceful Change movements and a number of Facebook activists, was set to take place in front of Qasr El-Nil Bridge but a heavy security presence prevented it.

The few dozen protestors then marched towards the Lawyers’ Syndicate where they were surrounded by security forces.

They chanted slogans and held banners condemning the death of Belal “on the hands of the police” and demanded the resignation of Minister of Interior Habib Al-Adly, and bringing those responsible for Belal’s death to court.

The protest continued for one hour before plainclothes security dispersed and arrested the majority of protestors, bundling them into a security van and a number of microbuses.

A number of protestors hid inside the Lawyers’ and Journalists’ Syndicates while others managed to escape.

Belal, who was married and had a one-year-old child, was a member of Alexandria’s Salafi group. He was allegedly tortured to death by state security last week during his interrogation.

Haitham Abu Khalil, head of Dahaya, a human rights center, denied in a conference held at the Democratic Front Party rumors that Belal’s wife was arrested after an interview she gave to a local newspaper.

Belal’s family was pressured, according to his brother-in-law, Khaled Al-Sherif, to drop the case they filed against state security officials who refused to attend interrogations by the prosecution.

Protests by angry Copts joined by opposition powers swept the country the week following the New Year’s Eve attack on an Alexandria church, which left 23 dead and 90 injured.

The trial of eight protesters arrested in Shubra at a demonstration condemning the New Year’s bombing in front of Al-Qeddesine Church was adjourned to Jan. 20.

The defendants are accused of a long list of charges including: participating in a gathering of more than five people, inciting sectarianism, vandalism of public property, injuring 15 security force officers and four policemen, and vandalizing nine private vehicles, 11 vans, two microbuses, and two police pick-up trucks.

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