Updated – there are several changes from the original post I made this morning. The most important – Alaa has been detained for 15 days “pending investigation”.
My friend Alaa Abd El-Fateh, an Egyptian blogger, open source developer and activist, has been detained by the Egyptian police for participating in a non-violent demonstration in solidarity with 47 demonstrators arrested in Cairo last week. Those arrested activists were demonstrating in support of a group of Egyptian judges who’ve called for judicial independence and asked for independent investigations of recent parliamentary elections.
A note – Alaa’s legal name is “Alaa Ahmed Seif al-Islam” and you’ll see him refered to in some blog posts under that name.
According to a post by Manal, Alaa’s wife, authorities arrested 11 young men yesterday who were chanting and singing songs in support of the detainees. Three were released by authorities – Alaa is still being held.
Last year, Alaa and I did a skypecast interview for Global Voices, talking about the Kifaya (Enough!) movement, and his work with Manal in the Egyptian blogosphere and open source community. It’s a long interview, but very much worth a listen, as I think – Alaa is one of the key figures at the intersection of the Egyptian internet and political spheres. The blog he runs with Manal – Manal and Alaa’s Bit Bucket – won the special Reporters Without Borders award in the 2005 Best of the Blogs based on its importance in aggregating content about Egyptian human rights and activism.
has offers a translation of an excellent post about Alaa’s detention up at Global Voices, originally written by “Socrates”, along with a image posted on Flickr as a badge to ask for Alaa’s release. He’s now added a roundup of reactions from the Egyptian and Middle East blogosphere. Ibn Ad Dunya at Fustat also has an excellent post on Alaa’s detention.
(We’re in the unfortunate position at Global Voices where we may need to start a new section to coordiante campaigns for the release of friends and colleagues who’ve been detained by authoritarian campaigns – our China editor Hao Wu continues to be held incommunicado and without charge.) My friend Elijah Zarwan, who lives in Cairo and is close to Alaa, has an excellent post on the situation as well.