Mona Seif, sister of the detained Egyptian activist Alaa Abdelfattah, said that she and her sister Sanaa Seif and their mother, university professor Laila Soueif, 64, have been beaten up, dragged by the hair, and their clothes torn in front of Tora Prison by female thugs whilst police watched. She accused the Egyptian regime of sending female thugs to beat and rob them at the prison door. She added, “We are at home, and we are fine despite what happened. We will take a rest for a little [while], then we will see the procedures and steps that we will take.”
In the full view of the security and guards surrounding the prison, Mona said in a short video clip, which she posted on her Facebook account, that she was “dragged, with her sister, pulled from her hair, and her mother was beaten,” and after a short time the hired female thugs returned. She confirmed that security forces refused to intervene to protect them or merely allow them to cross the iron barrier to protect themselves. Instead, they pushed professor Laila out of the barrier towards the thugs.
Mona also posted pictures showing her clothes torn as a result of the attack, with superficial scratches on various parts of her neck, hand, and abrasions on her leg. The attack on Alaa’s mother Laila Soueif, a mathematics professor, and her daughters, caused a wave of anger on social media.
Pictures of Laila sleeping on the ground in front of the Tora Prison gate, waiting for a message from her imprisoned son, have sparked widespread controversy on social media for weeks. Laila appeared in another picture with her foot on a bag with “I want a message” written on the side. Her son has been detained since September 29 and she has not received any reports about him, only about the spread of coronavirus in Egyptian prisons.
Lawyers say that Alaa is legally entitled to send letters to his family, and to contact them by phone also at his own expense, but the Ministry of Interior does not implement the law. The Prisons Law was amended according to the Presidential Decree of Law No. 106 of 2015 in Article 38, whereby it was decided that every convicted person has the right to phone calls in exchange for a fee. However, the Egyptian authorities do not allow Alaa any phone calls, and refuse to deliver his letters to his family.
Security forces arrested Alaa Abdelfattah on September 29, while he was spending every night in the police station according to a judgment order, to appear the next day at the State Security Prosecution pending case 1356 of 2019. Because of the spread of the corona epidemic, Egyptian authorities have completely prevented visits from prisoners since March. The only way to check on them is through handwritten messages, but the security forces refuse without a clear reason to exchange letters between families and detainees. Because of her sit-in in front of the prison to demand a letter from her son, Soueif received threats accusing her of violating the implementation of the partial curfew imposed in Egypt from 8pm.
The Egyptian authorities imposed a partial curfew, starting from 8pm until 4am, as part of its preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19. Her daughter Mona Seif said via Twitter that Lt. Col. Muhammad al-Nashar, who forced her mother to go outside the external prison gates, threatened her mother and said that if she did not leave, he will accuse her of violating the curfew and arrest her, and he pointed to a deportation car in front of her.
Egyptian journalists say that the hiring of thugs and using them to counter various forms of protest is an old habit that the deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime used to resort to, and has also been used a lot during the era of the current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. This policy aims not to show the security forces in uniform assault the protesters, but rather to make it look like an ordinary quarrel. In these cases, protesters are subjected to a brutal assault, without knowing who attacked them, or even without being able to sue the security forces, causing protesters to leave.