CAIRO: The military prosecution released three artists arrested early on Thursday ahead of planned mass protests, for criticizing the ruling military council in a poster.
“I don’t know why we were transferred to the military prosecution,” graffiti artist Mohamed Fahmy, who goes by Ganzeer on Twitter, told Daily News Egypt minutes after his release. He added that the army officers “seemed more concerned with other important issues than just a bunch of guys hanging up posters.”
He said that they were treated well, were offered drinks and talked about “politics and democracy.”
Fahmy recounts that he and musician Abdel Rahman Amin were hanging up posters on Abdel Khalek Tharwat St. in Downtown Cairo when ordinary citizens who disapproved of the posters gathered around them and called the police patrol, which then handed them over to the military police.
Filmmaker Aida El-Kashef was taking pictures when she too was arrested.
The poster in question showed a head with two small wings and a mask covering the eyes and an object gagging the mouth. The following words accompanied the image: “New…The freedom mask. Greetings from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to the beloved people. Now available in the market for an unlimited time.”
“The poster criticized the political performance of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) not their military capacity,” said lawyer Ghada Shahbandar, who works with the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
Fahmy believes that the outrage against their arrest on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook may have been behind the decision to have them released on the same day.
Indeed, within one hour of their detention, the poster went viral online and many used it as their profile picture.
In a related story, April 6 Youth Movement activist Ibrahim Abed was reportedly arrested Wednesday night in Nasr City while distributing leaflets encouraging people to join the Friday protest in Tahrir Square, dubbed the “Second Rage Revolution.”
However, the movement’s spokesman Mohamed Adel said both the military prosecution and the military police said he was not on their list of detainees.
“Abed told us over the phone that he was arrested by the military police. We are now trying to reach anybody at Egyptian intelligence where he might be,” Adel told DNE.
The group said in a statement Wednesday that the detention of Abed brings Egyptians back to the security measures taken during the era of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
“The pursuit of activists as they promote the revival of the [January 25] Revolution is a dangerous indicator of the return of the security violations against them,” Adel said.
April 6 held a protest Thursday outside the defense ministry in Kobry El-Qobba demanding the immediate release of Abed.
In Suez, seven activists were reportedly arrested also on Thursday during a planning meeting for the Friday protest in the governorate, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information Gamal Eid told DNE.
“We have no confirmed details yet about their location. But some said they saw them in a truck near the old building of the [disbanded] state security investigations,” he said.
Suez residents are planning a demonstration on the main El-Arabein street following Friday prayers in coordination with the Cairo protest.
Suez witnessed the first death of a citizen shot by the police on Jan. 25.
No further details were available about the destiny of the detainees until time of press.
Meanwhile, the SCAF reiterated in statement 58 on its official Facebook page the right of Egyptians to hold peaceful protests, saying no single bullet was ever fired at a citizen by the army.
The SCAF warned against “suspicious elements” that may provoke divisions between the people and the military and hence announced that it will not deploy any forces in the areas where protests are planned in order to avoid such risks.
Some online activists announced on Twitter that protesters will start heading to Tahrir in the early hours of Friday and form popular committees to safeguard the area.