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Posts Tagged ‘Lotfi K. Gaafar

Worse than During Morsi? Students and minors detained

As Egypt prepares for a brand new presidential election and amends its suspended constitution, hundreds are being rounded up and detained, including many students.

Twelve students were sentenced to 17 years last week on charges of possessing light weapons and raiding and vandalizing Al-Azhar, the most prestigious Islamic institution.

Arwa Gaballa posted on Aswat Masriya this Nov. 18, 22013

Students and minors detained in post-Mursi Egypt

CAIRO, Nov 17 (Aswat Masriya)

Hundreds were arrested last month on the 40th anniversary of the October Six War, where thousands rallied to celebrate the army’s victory while others marched to denounce what they view as a “military coup”.

Abdullah Hamdy, 20, is one of 46 students who were arrested on October 6, where some of the detainees were as young as 12 and 14 years old and over 10 of them were under 18.

According to Hamdy’s detention records, supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi and Muslim Brotherhood members tried to raid Tahrir Square but were stopped by civilian volunteers who then clashed with them.

The records say that the detainees fired shots and rubber bullets on the residents as well as the police and army forces who were securing the area.

They add that police and army forces intervened to disperse the confrontations between the rivals and arrested the 164 defendants.

Hamdy has denied that he was armed and said that civilian volunteers handed him over to the authorities around midday “for no apparent reason” and “not from clashes”, his older brother, Ahmed, told Aswat Masriya.

Hamdy, a Mechanical Engineering student at the AUC (The American University in Cairo), said he was in the vicinity of the university’s downtown campus when he was captured.

The 164 detainees mentioned in Hamdy’s records were arrested in different areas and at different times but all charged with the same allegations.

Other records of this nature were created at different police stations across the capital on the same day.

Associate Professor Lamyaa El-Gabry, who taught Hamdy Applied Thermodynamics, described him as a mature student who took responsibility for his actions.

“In class, Abdullah was polite, punctual, attentive, and engaged. He was honest and candid and never tried to negotiate his way to a higher grade or an extension or any of those things that are not uncommon among students,” she said.

El-Gabry is also the faculty advisor of the Mechanical Engineering Association where Abdullah was the head of the Academics Committee.

“Abdullah always struck me as a very quiet and humble young man but under that apparently timid smile was someone who has depth and a commendable sense of service to his community,” Professor El-Gabry said.

Hamdy, like many Egyptians, voted for Mursi and although, according to his brother, he does not belong to the Brotherhood, he is critical of the “coup”.

Egypt’s army ousted Mursi in July in response to mass demonstrations across the country and the collection of millions of petitions asking him to resign.

Since Mursi’s ouster, his supporters and Muslim Brotherhood members have been staging demonstrations to denounce the army and call for his reinstatement.

Some of those who join these demonstrations did not support Mursi and do not belong to the Brotherhood but are against military rule.

Security forces violently dispersed two pro-Mursi sit-ins in August, killing at least a thousand people, and hundreds of Brotherhood supporters have been arrested in the past three months.

The Brotherhood’s Mursi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president exactly a year before his ouster upon defeating Ahmed Shafiq, who served as Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister.

Mursi and his top aides are now standing trial on charges of inciting violence during the past year.

Hamdy and the others were first kept in military detention of very poor conditions where they had to take turns to sleep, as at least 50 people were crammed in one room, until they were sent to prison where each now has their own bed.

Those who are under 18 were then released for not meeting the legal age of detention.

Now detained in a room of 70 beds at the Marg Prison, Hamdy, who is in his 3rd year of studying Mechanical Engineering at AUC, is visited by his family every week.

Professor Lotfi K. Gaafar, who taught Hamdy Engineering and Project Management in the spring semester of 2013 and Production and Inventory Control this fall semester until his arrest, said, “The charges levied against Abdullah were even more shocking. They are totally out of sync with Abdullah’s low profile, humble, and peaceful personality.”

Professor Gaafar added that Hamdy would often visit him in his office to discuss his future plans to sell souvenir items engraved with messages of peace and hope.

“Egypt needs people like Abdullah in the forefront not in captivity,” he said.

A prosecutor adjourned Hamdy’s case to December 7 last week.

According to a Facebook page created by his family and friends, the 20-year-old is staying strong and says, “Fear is defeat and despair is betrayal.”

Ahmed Ezzat from Egypt’s Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression said that many students are being put on trial on charges of political nature.

He added that the judiciary must be neutral and not involve students in the current political struggle as not to hurt their futures.

The lawyer and rights activist described the 17-year sentence that the 12 Azhar students received last week as “very harsh”, explaining that it violates the criminal code.

Note: This November 2013, Egypt banned peaceful demonstrations, altogether.


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September 2021
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