After 56 days in detention, and twenty days after the birth of his first child, Alaa Abdel Fattah returned to Tahrir Square on 25 December after his release from prison. The blogger and activist’s release comes after an international campaign which saw protests and petitions organised around the world. Thanks to everyone who signed our statement and participated in the protests we helped to organise in London.
However, just hours before Alaa walked free, revolutionary activists warned of a new organised campaign of media smears and threats of legal charges in the wake of the military council’s brutal repression of protesters involved in the #Occupycabinet and Tahrir sit-ins.
At a press conference on 24 December at the Centre for Socialist Studies, Sameh Naguib a leading member of the Revolutionary Socialists (RS), responded to attacks in media against the group for wanting to ‘overthrow the state’ and cause ‘anarchy’.
“In my opinion this is not simply about smearing the Revolutionary Socialists, but about smearing the revolution itself. They want to stop the revolution itself. They have charges and accusations ready for when there are further confrontations in the coming period,” he said.
“The campaign focuses on the claim that we are calling for violence. There is no basis for this charge whatsoever. The methods of struggle we use are strikes, sit-ins and demonstrations. These are all non-violent methods of struggle. We have never called for any other forms of struggle except these three. The army is using violence to break up the sit-ins. The police are using violence against us. For them to accuse us of violence, at the same time as they are killing demonstrators, and dragging people in the streets, is laughable.”
The RS is recognised across the Egyptian workers’ movement for the leading role the group has played in mobilising solidarity for workers’ struggles in recent years, particularly for the emerging independent unions. Their website is also one of the most important sources for news of strikes and workers’ protests in Egypt.
However as leading labour lawyer Khaled Ali stressed at the press conference, the media attacks and threats of legal charges against RS activists are part of a wider campaign by the ruling military council aimed at clearing all revolutionaries from the streets.
“There are a group of young guys and women who were arrested during the recent protests. I cannot describe to you the tortures they were put through. I have never seen anything as brutal as this in my life, and I’ve been working since 1996. This media campaign is not just about the Revolutionary Socialists, but it is part of an organised effort, by the military council, and unfortunately some political forces to ‘clean’ the streets of revolutionaries. They are trying to make ordinary Egyptians believe that the revolutionaries are against them.”