Egyptian activist charged with inciting violence via Facebook

Egyptian activist charged with inciting violence via Facebook

Summary: The Egyptian Military Prosecution has charged 26-year-old activist and blogger Asmaa Mahfouz over a Facebook post.

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The Egyptian Military Prosecution has charged 26-year-old activist and blogger Asmaa Mahfouz for allegedly defaming the country's ruling generals and calling for armed operations against the military and the judiciary. Mahfouz, a prominent activist, was accused of using Facebook to call for the assassinations of Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) members and certain judges.

"If the judiciary doesn't give us our rights, nobody should be surprised if militant groups appear and conduct a series of assassinations because there is no law and there is no judiciary," Mahfouz wrote on Facebook, according to the official Middle East News Agency (MENA). Another translation (from Arabic) reads: "If justice is not achieved and the justice system fails us, no-one should feel upset or surprised if armed gangs emerge to carry out assassinations. As long as there is no law and there is no justice, anything can happen, and nobody should be upset."

Prosecutors briefly detained Mahfouz on Sunday for questioning, on charges of defaming the ruling SCAF. Mahfouz was released on $3,360 bail, a particularly high number. Prosecutors ordered Mahfouz to pay the fine or face 15 days in jail pending the setting of a date for her trial. If convicted, she could face up to three years in jail.

Following her release, Asmaa told the Egyptian privately owned daily newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (via Aljazeera) that the interrogation lasted for three hours, and that she had denied all the charges against her. "There is no truth in these accusations, I was only warning the military council that the absence of justice will lead to chaos," she said. "I am not scared, I will not be silenced, and I will continue to take to the streets and criticise any wrong doing that I see." Hossam Issa, Mahfouz's laywer, also denied the allegations, according to the AFP. "What Asmaa wrote on Facebook is not a call to violence... She was only expressing her fears and that is not a crime."

Mahfouz's post received a lot of attention since she was one of the leaders of the Egyptian revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Major General Adelal-Morsy, head of the Military Justice Commission, issued a statement saying Mahfouz's Facebook post overstepped the limits of freedom of expression by inciting violence and insulting both the army and SCAF. He added that there would be "no tolerance to insults directed at the armed forces" and that such defamation was considered an offence under the criminal code, meaning violators will be prosecuted.

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Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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6 comments
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  • RE: Egyptian activist charged with inciting violence via Facebook

    That is what they really should do if they want a real revolution. Targeted assassinations.
    DickCheney777
  • Well, surprise, surprise. A military dictatorship is

    overthrown by another military dictatorship. And yet naive Americans will continue to believe that tweeting and waving flags in the street can actually turn a dictatorship into a democracy.
    baggins_z
    • Worked in Czechoslovakia

      @baggins_z <br>But it takes commitment. I know of very few cases where lasting democracies have been created by external intervention. People tend to stay free longer if they free themselves.
      John L. Ries
    • RE: Egyptian activist charged with inciting violence via Facebook

      @baggins_z The govt wasnt overthrown at all. Mubarak was 2nd in command when Anwar Sadat was killed and therefore took over. This is the same regime, they just changed the president.
      DickCheney777
  • Actually...

    ...inciting violence *should* get one arrested and prosecuted. Criticism is one thing, calls to arms are quite another.<br><br>With regard to the post quoted, it was intemperate and foolish, but I don't think it can be read as incitement.

    The worrysome aspect of this is the no tolerance to insults directed at the armed forces? statement, as that is tried and true code for "no criticism of the military is allowed". People can be reasonably expected to follow the law, but rulers have to earn their legitimacy.
    John L. Ries
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