Activists and presidential hopefuls condemn Asmaa Mahfouz arrest

Presidential hopefuls joined various revolutionary groups on Sunday in condemning the referral of activist Asmaa Mahfouz to a military court, and called on people to continue defending the demands of the revolution.

“Military trials for young activists, while Mubarak & co. stand before civilian courts, is a legal farce. Don't abort the revolution,” ElBaradei wrote on the social networking site Twitter.

Earlier on Sunday Mahfouz was investigated by the military prosecution office on charges of defaming Egypt’s military rulers and calling them a "council of dogs". She is also charged with incitement to violence after she wrote on her Twitter account that “if the judiciary doesn’t give us our rights, nobody should be surprised if militant groups appear and conduct a series of assassinations, because there is no law and there is no judiciary.”

Mahfouz is currently free on bail pending appearance in court. However, she is expected to appear late on Sunday on the popular talk show “Akher Kalam”, according to a Tweet from the show's presenter, Yosri Fouda.

The referral of Mahfouz to the military prosecution sparked a barrage of criticism of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has ruled Egypt since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Political figure Ayman Nour, another presidential hopeful, also condemned the arrest of Mahfouz.

“I follow with concern the news about the military prosecution investigation with Asmaa Mahfouz. Civilians shouldn’t be tried in military courts,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Activists affiliated with the No Military Trials for Civilians group called on people to write, “No Military Trials” on paper currency, a step that shows their disapproval of trying Mahfouz in a military court.

Activists launched a Facebook page called “In solidarity with Asmaa Mahfouz”. The page garnered more than 10,000 followers in less than a day.

Human rights watchdogs have systematically criticized referring civilians to military courts, saying that such trials fail to guarantee due process or fairness.

However, General Hassan al-Ruweiny, Commander of the Central Military Zone, said in a TV interview that military trails are limited to “thugs” and not for revolutionary forces.

Youth movements such as the 25 January Revolution Youth Coalition issued a statement saying, “Asmaa Mahfouz didn’t commit any crime. Rather, she was simply expressing her fears that failing to achieve justice in Mubarak’s trial would lead to a wave of anger among people.”

The April 6 Youth Movement said in its Facebook page, “This is unbelievable, that activists against the former regime are referred to military courts. The military prosecution investigation of Asmaa Mahfouz represents a perpetuation of the undemocratic practices that we’ve been fighting against.”

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