Dear Friend,

This year Democracy Now! is celebrating our 25th anniversary—that’s 25 years of bringing you fearless, independent journalism. Since our first broadcast in 1996, Democracy Now! has refused to take corporate or government funding, because nothing is more important to us than our editorial independence. But that means we rely on you, our audience, for support. If everyone who tunes in to Democracy Now! gave just $4, we could cover our operating expenses for the entire year. Really, that’s all it would take. Right now a generous donor will DOUBLE your donation, making it twice as valuable to Democracy Now! Please do your part today, and thank you so much.
-Amy Goodman

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.

Donate

“You Have Not Yet Been Defeated”: Alaa Abd El-Fattah Continues to Push for Change from Egyptian Jail

Web ExclusiveOctober 21, 2021
Listen
Media Options
Listen

In Part 2 of our interview with the mother of prominent Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abd El-Fattah, who faces trial before an Emergency State Security Court in Cairo, Laila Soueif describes his conditions in prison and how authorities have barred him from sending or receiving any letters and emptied the cells around him. This week a collection of Fattah’s prison writings, interviews and articles was released as a book titled “You Have Not Yet Been Defeated.” Sharif Abdel Kouddous, a reporter for Mada Masr, reads excerpts from the book and discusses relations between the U.S. and Egypt as the country faces growing concerns about human rights abuses and holds an estimated 60,000 political prisoners.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, as we continue our look at the prominent Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abd El-Fattah, who appeared before the Emergency State Security Court in Cairo Monday to face charges of spreading false news on social media. He’s charged along with his lawyer, Mohamed El-Baqer, and another blogger, Mohamed Ibrahim, known as “Mohamed Oxygen.” On Monday, Alaa’s trial was adjourned until November 1st, meaning he’ll be held even longer, after two years of pretrial detention. And his arrest in 2019 came just six months after he was released from prison after serving a five-year term for his role in the peaceful Egyptian revolution of 2011.

We’re going to go back to Alaa Abd El-Fattah speaking in 2014. This was after he’d been released on bail after nearly four months in prison.

ALAA ABD EL-FATTAH: Because of that suspended sentence, it remains hanging over my head for three years, at least. And also, it’s clear — I mean, I’ve been arrested before, but it’s — it was always clear in the previous times that they never planned to sentence me. It was like they used the pretrial detention as a form of punishment, as a form of executive detention. And so we always knew that, you know, it was just about stifling that voice for a while or about, you know, exerting punishment that would only last for a few months. But this time it’s clear.

And it’s not just about me. I mean, there’s been activists in Alexandria who have been sentenced for five years, I think — no, two years. Two years. And the verdict was confirmed in the appeals process. There’s been several student groups that have been sentenced, anything from one year to five. These have been common. There’s also a couple of cases where students have been sentenced with crazy, like 14 years and 17 years and 11 years and so on. So, they are on a sentencing frenzy. I mean, this is not just about me. And it’s almost as if it’s a war on a whole generation.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Alaa Abd El-Fattah speaking with Democracy Now!'s Sharif Abdel Kouddous in 2014. This week, a collection of Alaa's prison writings, interviews and articles were released, titled You Have Not Yet Been Defeated.

We go now to Cairo, Egypt, for Part 2 of our interview with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who is a reporter for Mada Masr. And we’re joined by Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s mother, Laila Soueif, who is a mathematics professor at Cairo University.

Thanks for staying with us to continue this conversation. Professor Soueif, you have been arrested protesting COVID conditions in the prisons last year. You have been beaten up. Both of your daughters have served time in jail. Sanaa continues to remain in prison, as well as your son Alaa. Where do you find the strength to continue going forward yourself?

LAILA SOUEIF: Right now let me do a small correction first: Mona has never been sentenced. Mona was arrested with me for 24 hours on March 20, but she has never been sentenced. She was sentenced — sorry, she was sentenced but not jailed. She was — the same sentence that Alaa mentions in the bit you just broadcast, a suspended sentence, she got the same, but she has never been actually jailed. Sanaa has been jailed several times and is now in jail.

Right now I get the strength from the fact that both Alaa and Sanaa are in jail, and I need to keep going at least until I get them out. I mean, I don’t have a choice. And actually, for quite a long time I haven’t had a choice, because for the past 10 years Alaa and Sanaa have been in and out of jail so many times. And when they weren’t in jail, they were out on bail or whatever. So, of course, I have other reasons for going on, but, I mean, even if I wanted to stop, even I cannot. I don’t have a choice. It’s really not me being strong or brave or whatever. It’s just me being a mother.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Professor Soueif, we spoke — in the first part of our interview, you talked about the highly constrained visits that you now have with Alaa, which are also, of course, monitored, only 20 minutes you have with him a month. Can you also talk about whether there’s any other form of communication that you’re able to have with him, either through letters or phone conversations? And if you are not, when did those stop? Were you ever able? Because, of course, this is a collection of his writings, as well as his letters. Those letters were also written in prison. Could you talk about that?

LAILA SOUEIF: OK. At the beginning, when the restrictions because of COVID started, there were no visits at all, no court appearances at all, so we started demanding letters. Before that, we had a visit a week, and sometimes Alaa would have a letter with him for us to give to some of his friends. But anyway, we had a visit once a week for an hour, and he would talk to us about anything he wanted. So, that was — with the COVID restrictions, at the beginning, there were no visits whatsoever and no court appearances whatsoever, so there was actually no way of knowing if he was alive in there. And so I started demanding letters.

And this is when — this is what ended up with me being — we did a small protest demanding that he and other people on remand be released. We were arrested and released on bail. And then we started demanding letters. And we ended up being beaten up, and Sanaa was arrested and charged with insulting a police officer, when she hadn’t even been there, actually. And then, after that, I started — they started letting him write me letters. Basically, I got a letter a week. I went to the prison once a week to hand them food and things and a letter from me, and got a letter from him.

That went on fine until a month ago. A month ago, suddenly, no letter came out. Why? I have no idea what happened. He had some kind of a quarrel between — or some kind of a difference between Alaa and the prison authorities about what they wanted him to write or not write, and he refused to change his letters. And he was also demanding his right to reading material. And I think he had written in his letter that he cannot — the conditions he’s being held under are becoming more and more unbearable. And they did not want to release that. And since then, I’ve only had one letter of the 14th of September, when he threatened in court on the 13th to kill himself. And so, next day, they allowed him to write me a letter, so I wouldn’t think that he had killed himself. But then no more letters again. So that’s the situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, you have a letter that Alaa wrote that we’re wondering if you could read.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Yeah, Amy. This is part of the book that’s just been published, a collection of Alaa’s writings, You Have Not Been Defeated. So, this is a letter from November 2020, just about a year ago, written from Tora Prison. It’s a handwritten note.

“Hi. I’ve not seen your letter yet, so I can’t respond. And I don’t know which one of you is here, but I think it’s Mama. I’m a bit worried at the thought of you waiting out there in this rain. It looks like the whole place has drowned, as usual. But honestly, when it was raining, it was joyful. And the smell of the wet dust was good. And the sound of people raising prayers was inspiring. You miss being part of nature and the climate, but this rain is making itself felt through the walls. I hope you’re all well. My health is good. That’s all I can say. The day of my birthday was a bit dramatic, and I couldn’t celebrate, but the banana cake made up for things a bit. I try to energize my head, in the absence of books, by remembering stories from history, sometimes by chattering on about science. My imagination can’t really engage with post-release dreams. But, you know, one tries to find reason for optimism in the ebbing of the right-wing wave in the world and to believe its effects will reach us. Of course, I’m used to Gramsci’s method regarding the pessimism of the mind and the optimism of the will. But there’s such negation of the will here that I need to train myself into an optimism of the mind, before I mess up my colleagues. That’s all. I’m generally fine. And I love you and miss you.”

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous reading the words of Alaa Abd El-Fattah that are appearing in this new book, this new collection of essays, writings, letters, called You Have Not Yet Been Defeated, that’s been published while he’s in prison. Sharif, you spoke in Part 1 of our conversation about Alaa’s state of mind and the concern of everyone as — we read a headline a few weeks ago about the concern of people that Alaa could be considering suicide. Can you address this issue about the breakdown of the spirit and the kind of conditions he’s under in prison?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, as Laila has mentioned, he’s put under extremely stringent conditions. For Alaa, the written word is such an important part of who he is. It’s how he expresses himself. You know, the editors, when putting together this book, they also put together — were going through his social media posts, his Facebook and Twitter, and it was really a forum for him. Alaa is a software engineer and a technologist, and the internet is such an important medium for him as a primary way he engaged in public conversation and debate. And as people looked through it, they realized he had written, over the — since he got on Twitter, for example, since 2007, the equivalent of about a hundred books. So, depriving him of reading, any reading material whatsoever — no books, no newspapers, nothing — and not being allowed out of his cell, it’s starting to take its toll, even for someone as strong as Alaa.

And this has affected other people, as well. We’ve seen people commit suicide in prison. You know, in the courtroom on Monday, that was the first time I saw Alaa in two years. But I also saw next to him Mohamed Ibrahim, who’s known as “Mohamed Oxygen.” He hasn’t been allowed — he’s also in the same conditions. He’s not allowed out of his cell, no exercise time, no sunlight. But he has been denied visitation also since February. So he has not been out of his cell or seen anyone or seen any sunlight for months. And I don’t know him personally, but he looked ashen. He had this spectral presence and kind of like stare in mid-distance, and it looked like someone who had been broken. I hope I’m not speaking out of turn and that his will is still strong.

But these kinds of conditions are intentional. And there seems to be an intentional focus on Alaa and others like him, because these conditions are completely arbitrary — to cut off just even the most basic form of communication, letter writing, for Alaa; to empty the cells around him to isolate him; to transport him in an armored personnel carrier alone; to treat him in this special way. He’s come to believe that they will never release him.

And so, this is why I think this book is very important for people to read his words, and because, unfortunately, in the current political situation we are, they seem to only respond to international pressure to let people go. And we saw that in the case of when, last winter, they arrested a few people and raided the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of the leading human rights groups here. There was massive international pressure to let them go, and after a couple of weeks, they were released. It happened with Mada Masr, the media outlet that I work for, one of the only independent media outlets still operating in Egypt. Two years ago, they raided our offices tried, to arrest Lina Attalah. Well, they did arrest Lina Attalah, Mohamed Hamma and Rana Mamdouh, and took them. But because of a lot of pressure, both internal and external, they were let go.

So, you know, and I think for people listening in the United States and around the world, especially for Democracy Now! viewers, that the United States still does back this regime. There’s still $1.3 billion of aid that is coming in. A tiny portion of it has been withheld on human rights concerns. But I think that this relationship is being reconstituted. President Biden, when he was campaigning in the summer of 2016, tweeted and said that — you know, he mentioned this American prisoner who had been released from prison in Egypt. He mentioned Sarah Hegazi, an LGBT activist and communist and feminist who had been swept up in a massive crackdown on the gay community in Egypt. She was imprisoned and tortured and eventually let go. She committed suicide in Canada in exile. And he said, “No more checks for Trump’s favorite dictator,” which had become kind of Sisi’s moniker because Trump said it in 2019, referred to him in this way, according to The Washington Post. So, but since then, we’ve seen the relationship be reconstituted. And this especially came up when, in Israel’s assault on Gaza in May, Egypt helped broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel and kind of reestablished its relevance, because over the past 10 years Egypt’s relevance as a regional power broker has waned as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have really emerged as the main power brokers in the region. And also, in this geopolitical context, in painting Sisi as Trump’s ally, we saw increasing vocal calls from some wings of the Democratic Party to hold Egypt to account.

And so, actually, the government here, from our reporting, what we know is that they were very worried when Biden won, that when he was being inaugurated, Biden did not call Sisi. Blinken did not call the foreign minister for weeks and weeks and weeks. And then, until Egypt brokered the ceasefire, Biden called Sisi twice within the space of a week. And we’ve seen this move that Biden did last month to withhold $130 million in counterterrorism funding. They did that on those human rights concerns, but they sidestepped some measures taken by Congress, where they urged the administration to withhold $300 million in aid to Egypt over human rights concerns. Now, according to the Leahy Law, the U.S. cannot provide military aid to any country that’s committing human rights abuses. But for years successive Republican and Democratic administrations have bypassed this by issuing a national security waiver. However, in the last spending bill we saw, Congress for the first time made a portion of U.S. aid to Egypt — $75 million — not subject to a waiver. So, finally, what the Biden administration did was sidestep all of this, not issue a national security waiver, and instead withheld this $130 million on some dubious legal argument. And this angered a lot of people in Congress, like Senator Chris Murphy, the Egypt Human Rights Caucus. And now we’re actually seeing in the Senate, in the upcoming appropriations bill, they’re tightening up some of the language to try and restrict the Biden administration’s ability to bypass congressional intent when it comes to human rights abuses in Egypt.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: You said, Sharif, to go back to Alaa’s situation now, that the conditions under which he’s being held are intentional — his conditions, as well as the others you described. Can you talk about what — what are those intentions? What exactly is the Sisi government attempting to do by treating these prisoners, without — people who are imprisoned without trial, in such brutal conditions?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: I mean, I can’t speak to what their intentions are. But all we know is that the conditions of his imprisonment for the past two years cannot stand. He has been held without sunlight or exercise time or reading material for two years. And over the past three or four months — and Laila could probably speak to this better than I could — the conditions seem to be increasing, and they’re kind of getting even worse, with this arbitrary shutoff of letter writing, with him — isolating the cells around him, with this being transported in an armored car alone to judicial proceedings. So, I don’t know what the intent is, but we know what the effect is. When Alaa signals that he’s thinking about committing suicide, when he talks about how he needs to have his mind work and that, you know, he wish he would die so he can get out of this place, when he starts to believe he will never get out, this is what the effect is of this kind of mistreatment and abuse in prison.

AMY GOODMAN: And I want to go to Laila Soueif in just one minute to talk about the tradition of protest in her family, beginning with her husband, the well-known human rights lawyer, who was tortured, who was imprisoned for years. But, Sharif, I did want to ask you one question. And that is, what is Alaa Abd El-Fattah protesting? Can you talk about — go back to the revolution, 2011, and the progression of governments, and what he has been protesting in and out of prison.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Alaa, as you know, his first imprisonment came way before the revolution. In supporting a judges’ uprising in 2006, he was imprisoned for something like a month and a half, along with dozens of other people. And then, he was first imprisoned in 2011, at the end of 2011, where he was ridiculously charged with something to do with the Maspero massacre, when the Army and security forces killed 27 mostly Coptic Christian protesters in downtown Cairo, most of them being run over by APCs.

You know, Alaa has always stood up and spoken out for the most marginalized in society. But he’s also such — his mind is so agile, and the breadth of his ideas is so broad, that it’s hard to define – you know, to kind of define it by asking what he’s protesting for. He’s protesting for a more just and better world. But, you know, he writes about global capital. He writes about Uber and the sharing economy and how that — and, you know, he kind of predicts from his prison cell. Without even this kind of information or seeing, he predicts, almost to a T, what is happening now in the pandemic, and how we’re all working from home and isolated from each other, and how Big Tech and these big companies are even — are profiting off this even more. I mean, he has been kind of an inspiration, I think, for a lot of people, and a lot of people look to him. And he’s also an organizer, and during the revolution, he was trying to get a mass grassroots campaign going to write the constitution.

And, you know, the title of the book is Yo Have Not Yet Been Defeated. One of the things I think that’s very important that Alaa says is this acknowledgment of defeat in Egypt. He acknowledges, very boldly, we have been defeated, and we have to acknowledge this. And how do we then look back at this and move forward from it? And how do we sustain ourselves? And how do we learn from it? And these kinds of discourses are rare, not just in Egypt, but anywhere. And yeah, I mean, I think he’s one of our most important thinkers of our generation. And he’s been in prison for much of the last 10 years.

AMY GOODMAN: And we will see what happens when he goes back to court on November 1st. Laila Soueif, let me ask what your expectations are in that case. But then, for this global audience, if you can talk about the tradition of your family? You yourself have been detained. You have been beaten up by the Egyptian police. And if you could go back to your husband and talk about his protests in the 1980s, his being held, and the effects of the torture and imprisonment on him and your family?

LAILA SOUEIF: Right. My husband, the late Ahmed Seif, was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for — in the '80s, in the early ’80s, for being part of a communist organization. And during — the human rights lawyer who emerged later and who became the well-known Ahmed Seif was formed in those five years. Before he was sentenced, he had been tortured. He broke down under torture. So, while he was pulling himself together in prison, he had decided that, first, that he personally was unfit for any underground work, since he had broken down under torture, and, second, that it was really very important to stand, to stand before the police and to try and abolish torture, because, otherwise — because you cannot organize, you cannot organize workers or you cannot organize people properly if they're going to be afraid of torture all the time. And he studied. He studied law during those five years, got his license.

When he came out, he worked for a while as a lawyer doing other work, doing human rights work as pro bono, but doing other work. And then, eventually, he decided to become a full-time human rights lawyer. He wasn’t arrested — he became one of the best-known human rights lawyers in Egypt. He was also one of the most consistent, because he insisted on defending everyone, defending so-called Islamic terrorists who had been tortured and who were facing death sentences, defending workers, defending people who are marginalized and [inaudible], defending street children, defending gays, defending absolutely anyone whose human rights were being abused. And he also insisted on taking on the international human rights movement and taking them to task for not standing by the rights of the Palestinians. So, he was really a very strong human rights advocate and a very consistent one. That is my husband. And I don’t know —

AMY GOODMAN: And the effect of imprisonment on your husband, and, sadly, torture, as well, but then how that shaped your whole family? I mean, you have your son Alaa, who has his own little baby Khaled, who is growing up with his father in prison.

LAILA SOUEIF: Yes. Well, Alaa — Seif was in prison until — while Alaa was 3 years old up to when he was 8 years old. Mona was born when Seif was in prison. Sanaa was born right after he came out. She was the baby with a — she was our celebration of Seif’s release. And that’s — so, yes, it certainly affected our whole family. But until 2011, the only sort of dedicated human rights activist was Seif — in the family was Seif. I mean, I’m a mathematics professor. Mona is a biologist. Sanaa at the time was still a high school student. Alaa is a software developer. We had our lives. We had things we were doing. It was the revolution of 2011 that brought us all far more strongly into activism. And the repeated arrests of Alaa have turned both me and Mona and Sanaa into full-time activists, which was never our plan.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Sharif, I’d like to read from a brief excerpt from a human rights article, a Human Rights Watch article, that came out earlier this month, talking about the most recent report on Egypt. The article is headlined “Al-Sisi’s Western Benefactors Are Betraying Egypt’s Democratic Struggle.” The article says, “Al-Sisi basically promised that Egyptians would have to trade their political rights for economic stability and growth. But his government has failed at that Faustian bargain, with rising poverty against the backdrop of frantic, debt-driven spending with little or no public scrutiny on vanity projects like a new administrative capital outside Cairo and huge arms purchases. Meanwhile, the military’s opaque, vast business empire has reportedly swelled, seizing even more control of Egypt’s economy, as the officer class decides who is allowed to accumulate wealth or invest in certain businesses.” Can you give an assessment, Sharif, of the broader record of the Sisi administration?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Egyptians are suffering economically under this government. A few years ago, Egypt took a $12 billion IMF loan to help sustain the economy. And that came with, as is usually the case, a number of austerity measures, tax hikes, subsidy cuts and a devaluation of the currency. And that severely affected the majority poor in the country. We saw, even by the government’s own statistics, the poverty rate go up above 30%. Many economists say the rate’s much higher. But even the government’s own numbers go higher. And then they were celebrating how well the economy was doing and the GDP was growing, even though I don’t know how a celebration — you can celebrate economic policies when the number of poor people in the country is going up.

But there’s also been a very severe restructuring and remodeling of the city of Cairo, for example. There’s been very rapid and fierce changes that have been happening, with no public debate or no input from any stakeholders whatsoever, with highways being built going through historic areas, and buildings being demolished. For example, much of Cairo, 60% of the residents live in informal neighborhoods that were built without permits and so forth, and this is a result of very poor urban planning. And we’ve seen many of these neighborhoods be demolished, people be forcibly moved to these other government-built housing projects on the outskirts of the city. So, this is all happening kind of full steam ahead, and there’s very little anyone can do about it. Anyone who speaks or anyone who writes or, you know, kind of does anything, there’s — very quickly, people are usually imprisoned.

At the same time, it seems that they don’t have total control of the country. They don’t have — there’s a lot of anger. And we saw two years ago, when — we mentioned this Army contractor, who, in self-imposed exile, did these videos talking about lavish spending and corruption at the highest levels of the military and military-owned contractors. This sparked these spontaneous and widespread protests against the regime. There was a lot of anger. And the response was to conduct the biggest arrest sweep since Sisi came to office as president, with something like over 4,000 people arrested. Among them was Alaa and Baqer and Oxygen and so many other people that we know.

So, the record is, I think, well known around the world. But the United States, as usual, has seen that this is a partner they can work with. Europe, then — this is no surprise, either — wants a country to halt any irregular migration to Europe, and Egypt has very harshly done that. Hardly any boats leave from our coast to the Mediterranean. And in return for that, there is funding, there is support. And it continues. So, I mean, that’s not really a surprise, but it’s just something that seems to be the status quo and doesn’t seem to be changing.

AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, as we wrap up, if you could end with another excerpt from this remarkable collection of prison writings, which, by the way, includes a full interview that you did with Alaa that we ran on Democracy Now! But if you could end with one last excerpt of Alaa’s writing, that’s contained in You Have Not Yet Been Defeated?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: OK. There’s a lot to choose from, but I think we’ll end with this one. This was written from Tora Prison, and it was published in Mada Masr in March of 2014. And so this was a different time. Also, Alaa talks about — people refer to prison, but then they refer to Egypt as the big prison. And so, this is what Alaa is referring to.

“We have our own performances, big talk about 'the small prison and the big prison,' Egypt. I’m sorry, but let’s be serious. There is no prison except the small prison. In my cell I control nothing, but you are free to go out and challenge the authorities. It may only be the choice of the time and place of your arrest or injury or death, but that’s a choice the prisoner doesn’t have.

“We get many letters of solidarity full of compliments and praise we don’t deserve. ’You’re an inspiration and a source of hope.’ 'As long as there are people like you, Egypt will be OK.' In prison we resist despair. Inspiring hope is your job, so please: inspire us. Egypt might be OK if the repression was inspiring more people to resist and brave detention, injury and death.

“Perhaps this is why the authorities insist on theatrics even though everybody knows they’re fake. Doing so normalizes the situation and wastes time on useless strategies of negotiations, advice, legal representations and media campaigns, until the default position becomes a belief in the guilt of the accused, a belief that it’s the revolutionaries’ responsibility to avoid being imprisoned or killed. And yesterday’s comrades blame you for challenging the show and hold you responsible for the murdered and the lost.

“We were defeated the day we made ourselves responsible for the results of oppression. Everybody knows oppression stems from the authorities. And in a not-too-distant past everybody knew that you defeat oppression by destroying the fear of it. And everybody knew that to destroy fear you need to challenge it and mock it. You don’t destroy fear by thinking about guarantees of safety and trying to create a suitable environment for protest. Everybody knew that what breaks despair is the constant incitement to direct confrontational revolutionary action, without calculations of profit, loss or popularity.

“Everybody knows that this regime offers nothing to most of the country’s youth, and everybody knows that most of those in jail are young, and that repression’s goal is to subjugate an entire generation to a regime that knows it is completely divided from them and doesn’t want to and cannot include them.

“Everybody knows there’s no hope for us who have gone ahead into prison except through you who will surely follow. So what are you going to do about it?”

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous reading from the new collection of Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s prison writings, You Have Not Yet Been Defeated. Finally, Sharif, November 1st, he’s expected back in court. What do you expect to happen then?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: It’s hard to know whether there will just be another session or there will be a sentencing on that date. This court does move quickly. As we mentioned, the lawyers and Alaa both addressed the court in the first trial session on Monday, demanding to see the case files. They have not even seen the case files, where Alaa is accused of retweeting a post about a prisoner who died in custody, in the same prison he’s being held in, in 2019. His lawyers were only allowed to look at the case files. They weren’t even allowed a copy of it afterwards. But so, we’ll have to see what happens. And as I mentioned, any sentence that is handed down by this court cannot be appealed.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you both for joining us, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now! correspondent, reporter for Mada Masr, independent newspaper in Egypt, and Laila Soueif, professor of mathematics at Cairo University, mother of jailed activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah. Also her daughter Sanaa remains in prison, expected to be released in December. Thank you both for being with us, and all the best to you, speaking to us from Cairo, Egypt.

To see Part 1 of our discussion, go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Up Next

Jailed Egyptian Activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah Publishes Prison Writings as Sisi Cracks Down on Dissent

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation
Top