Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby Party condemned in a statement on Friday the detention of three of its members and an imam of a mosque.
The party members were detained inside the Qasr Al-Nil Police Station last Thursday from 12 to 6am because their car was carrying a picture of the party’s leader, possible presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy, on its rear windshield.
The four detainees, party members from the province of Kafr el-Sheikh, were in Cairo to attend a party meeting, according to the statement. On Thursday, they were scheduled to meet with the Minister of Endowments to discuss the possibility of building a party-sponsored mosque in the village of Al-Hamra.
Hamdy Hamadoun, the village’s party representative, said the party members brought the car to Cairo from Kafr el-Sheikh. It had been parked next to a mosque on Kasr Al-Nile Street since Wednesday evening, as they were preparing to meet with the Minister of Endowments.
The next morning, while the group was in the mosque to pray, security forces raided the mosque, looking for them. Their mobile phones were taken, and they were escorted to the Qasr Al-Nil Police Station.
Security forces took Hamadoun, , Shaaban Ghazi, Mohammed Gindy , and the mosque’s imam, Sheikh Mohammed Attia, to the station, Hamadoun said.. The four were held for hours while police checked their security clearance and searched the car bearing Sabahy’s image for explosives.
“We tried to persuade the security forces that we were members of Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby, but one of the officers ridiculed our political affiliation,” Hamadoun said. He stressed that a complaint was filed against the group, which was released after investigation.
The party condemned the incident, “which was built on mere suspicion over a car [because of its] bearing the image of a possible presidential candidate,” as leading to the “illegal detention” of its members.
The party reiterated its appreciation for the efforts of the army and the police against terrorism, but refused extreme security measures infringing on public freedoms to counter terrorism, which they said would be “a return to repressive security practices.”
Hamdeen Sabahy founded Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby after running for president in 2012. Sabahy has been a political activist since the 1970s, when, as a student leader, he had a famous debate with late President Anwar Sadat. He has also worked as a journalist and as a member of parliament and is a renowned Nasserist.