CAIRO: The ongoing elections will help the revolution, but only if street movements stayed as strong, activist Alaa Abdel Fattah said a day after his release from prison pending investigations.
“Both [elections and street action] can work together and help achieve the radical change the country needs,” Abdel Fattah said from his family home on Monday. The family invited friends and media to celebrate his release.
Abdel Fattah, who was imprisoned pending investigations into his involvement in the Maspero violence in October, had voted in the elections from prison upon his request.
“The parliament will not kill the revolution, yet it will not meet all its demands,” he told throngs of journalists that crowded the small family apartment in Dokki.
“The masses in the street give more power to the parliament. We are helping them pressure the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and we are not opposing them. No radical change will take place without street pressure,” he added.
Abdel Fattah, who organized earlier this year a panel inspired by micro-blogging website Twitter to bridge the gap between young Islamists and other activists, said he wasn’t surprised by the number of seats the Muslim Brotherhood got in the two phases of the elections so far.
He, however, was surprised by the gains made by the hardline Al-Nour Party, which came second to the MB’s Freedom and Justice Party.
“The country will move forward and the best way is to hand over power to this elected parliament,” he said.
The transition won’t be easy, he stressed, when asked about the option of a peaceful exit to the ruling military council. “They killed my friends; what peaceful exit are you talking about? Even if it takes us 10 or 20 years, we will put all the killers in jail.”
On Oct. 30, Abdel Fattah was detained by military prosecution pending investigation into charges of stealing weapons and planning for a terrorist plot along with 29 others in connection with Maspero violence. Earlier that same month, a military crackdown on a mostly Coptic protest left 27 dead.
Abdel Fattah refused to be interrogated by the military prosecution because the army was party of the crimes it was investigating and also because as a civilian he should stand before a regular civilian judge.
The case was later referred to state security prosecution and then to an investigations judge.
Ahmed Seif El-Islam, Abdel Fattah’s father and his lawyer, said his son’s case brought attention to the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” campaign and the Maspero case. He showed his confidence in the investigations judge whom he said would bring justice.
“The period the case stayed with the military prosecution was in our favor; the prosecution witnesses gave their statements and we will give our evidences to the judge next session. Twenty-eight defendants were released and one remains in custody,” Seif El-Islam added.
Abdel Fattah was released Sunday and headed to Tahrir Square with his first born Khaled, chanting against the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
“It was a message to SCAF that we will not give up and the revolution continues,” Abdel Fattah said.
Abdel Fattah, whose detention was seen as politically motivated, comes from the long line of activists. His father founded the Hisham Mubarak Law Center. Seif El-Islam missed the birth of his daughter, Mona, more than 20 years ago when he was imprisoned for his political activism. Like his father, Alaa Abdel Fattah missed the birth of his first born, Khaled.
“I’ve been trying to give Alaa a better life, and I’ve been fighting for that since I can remember. Unfortunately, my heritage for him was a prison cell,” the veteran lawyer said.
“Being a father changed me, but also made me fight harder for the right of getting a better life for Khaled, my son.” Alaa said.
This was the second time Abdel Fattah was detained. The first was in 2006 during activists’ solidarity with the independence of the judiciary movement.
Blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah is greeted by his sister Mona Seif as he holds his baby following his release from the police headquarters in Cairo on Dec. 25. AFP Photo / Filippo Monteforte