Egyptian activist charged with inciting violence via Facebook

The Egyptian Military Prosecution has charged 26-year-old activist and blogger Asmaa Mahfouz over a Facebook post.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

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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