Three activists from the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt appeared before the public prosecutor yesterday [Jan. 14] on charges of "insulting the president" — a charge that has been recently brought against a number of media personalities. However, a new charge has also been brought against them: "tarnishing the president's image."
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the governorate of Minya (in Upper Egypt) accused three members of the April 6 Movement — Abdul Rahman Osama, Mina Rushdi and Ahmed Sayyed — of "insulting the president" because of a slogan they wrote on a building wall in a main square in the governorate. The slogan read, "Jika was killed, Morsi is responsible," in reference to Mohammed Jaber, a movement member who was killed in the protests that broke out last November on the first anniversary of the Mohammed Mahmoud Street events, in which many died in clashes between the police and demonstrators.
A number of media personalities face the same charge, including TV personalities Mahmoud Saad and Bassem Youssef, journalists Ola Shafei, Khaled Salah and Majdi Jallad, Yusri Badri and the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper.
Alaa Kbawi, a coordinator in the April 6 Movement in Minya, told Al-Hayat that the accused members did write this slogan during the protests that erupted last November and December against President Mohammed Morsi's constitutional declaration. He said that during a march by the revolutionary forces, movement members painted graffiti under a picture of the president hanging on a wall, writing: "Jika was killed, Morsi is responsible." This angered Brotherhood members, and when the march moved away, "they beat them and dragged them to a nearby Brotherhood center where they were detained. As soon as we learned about it, we headed to the police station and filed a complaint against them, while they accused us of insulting the president."
He said that the movement members appeared before the public prosecutor yesterday. "Strangely, among the charges brought against them is tarnishing the president’s image, in addition to insulting the president, creating chaos and inciting public opinion against the president by attributing actions to him contrary to the truth."
Kbawi expressed surprise at “these ridiculous accusations.” He said: “If the public prosecutor refers the case to court, this would mean that freedoms in Egypt have ceased. How could the activists be accused of tarnishing the president’s image? Investigating these accusations proves that the Brotherhood is targeting freedoms.”
He added that “the police report presented to the public prosecutor includes funny observations. For example, the police considered those holding a crooked wooden pole carrying a large picture of the president as evidence of tarnishing his image.”
He said that “the investigator almost laughed at the accusations included in the police report and the report issued against us by Brotherhood members. Are we required to sanctify the president’s image? These things did not happen even under the former regime.” He expected that investigations into these accusations would continue.
The prosecution released the three activists on bail. A date will be set for questioning Brotherhood members, who were accused by members of the April 6 Movement of assault and forced detention.