Protest icon Alaa Abdel Fattah has been in prison for years. Now his sister Sanaa Seif was kidnapped in Cairo and brought for questioning.
For the family of the Egyptian activist Sanaa Seif, the week started with violence – and culminated in Seif’s “kidnapping”, as her older sister said on Tuesday in desperate social networks. Accordingly, the 26-year-old was dragged into a van outside the Cairo prosecutor’s office on Tuesday and taken to the state security prosecutor’s office for questioning. Seif’s lawyer confirmed the information.
With this, the Egyptian regime has already put two members of the family behind bars, which is known for their tireless commitment to democracy and human rights. Alaa Abdel Fattah, Sanaa Seif’s older brother, has been in prison with brief interruptions since 2013, shortly after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power in July of the same year. He is one of the most prominent activists in the country and was one of the leading voices of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.
On Monday, Sanaa’s sister Mona Seif and her mother Laila Soueif were waiting for a letter from Alaa Abdel Fattah in front of the Tora prison in Cairo. According to the family and Amnesty International, they were beaten and robbed by a group of women with sticks. Security forces were present, but did not intervene. Mona Seif spread photos of the injuries on Twitter. Then on Tuesday, when the family wanted to complain to the public prosecutor’s office about the attack the day before, Sanaa Seif was arrested. “Sanaa was just kidnapped by a minivan in front of the attorney general!” Her sister wrote on Twitter. According to Amnesty International, they are accused of “spreading false news”, “social media abuse” and “inciting terrorism”.
The human rights organization condemned the arrest of Sanaa Seif as well as the attack on Monday: “Sanaa Seif and her family have been harassed and intimidated for years because of their commitment to human rights, but the events of the past two days have reached a new low.”
Philip Luther, Middle East director of Amnesty International, said on Tuesday afternoon: “The fact that Sanaa Seif was arrested by the prosecution right in front of the prosecution shows how brazen the Egyptian security forces have become.”
Sanaa Seif was already politically active during the 2011 revolution, which led to the overthrow of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak. In 2014, a court sentenced the then 20-year-old to three years in prison after taking part in a demonstration against a controversial demonstration law. The following year, however, she was released under an amnesty. Among other things, as a camera operator, Seif was involved in the military-critical documentary film “The Square”, which deals with the 2011 revolution and its aftermath and was nominated for an Oscar in 2014. She comes from a politically active family that was already active in the opposition under Mubarak. Seif’s mother is the human and women’s rights activist Laila Soueif, who teaches mathematics at the state university in Cairo.
Seif’s father Ahmad Seif al-Islam was a prominent human rights lawyer in Hosni Mubarak’s time and beyond. When he died in 2014, Sanaa Seif and her older brother were both in prison. They could only attend his funeral, surrounded by civilian-clad security forces.