UPDATE 12 FEB – Kamal al-Fayoumy released without charge by prosecutors in Mahalla.
Leading textile worker activist Kamal al-Fayoumy has been arrested in Mahalla al-Kubra and accused by the security forces of inciting disorder and planning acts of vandalism by calling on workers to join the February 11 general strike. A press statement by General Mustafa al-Baz, Directory of Security in Gharbiyya Province, claimed that the police had evidence that al-Fayoumy distributed money in an attempt to build support for the strike. He was arrested along with an Austin Mackell, an Australian journalist, Derek Ludovic an American studying at the American University in Cairo and Aliya Alwi, an Egyptian interpreter.
Al-Fayoumy is one of the key activists in the Misr Spinning plant in Mahalla, and has played a leading role in building support for the Feb 11 strike. His arrest forms part of a wider pattern of attacks on revolutionary activists over the past two days as the ruling military council has intensified its campaign against those calling for strikes and civil disobedience to bring an end to military rule. However, he is the most high-profile workers’ leader to be targeted by the authorities in this way since the overthrow of Mubarak.
Speaking at a meeting on 8 February (video above) Al-Fayoumy stressed the need for workers and students to unite on 11 February. “We’ve always said that the gang which is ruling Egypt is stealing the Egyptian people’s wealth. And their attacks on the Egyptian people have increased day after day, as the number of martyrs has increased. … We’re not afraid of anyone…. We have a clear choice. We can stand up against the gang of thugs which is looting Egypt and killing revolutionaries in the streets, or we can sit fearfully at home in our houses. We have to form revolutionary committees of workers and students and organise the general strike.”
Reports that Al-Fayoumy had been referred to a military tribunal were unconfirmed late on 11 February, with lawyers reporting that he was still being held by Military Intelligence in Tanta.