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On January 25, 2011, demonstrations against police brutality to mark Egypts National Police Day, spiralled into what came to be called the Arab Spring. But nine years later, following a brutal crackdown by the Egyptian military, many icons of Cairos Tahrir Square uprising are facing police brutality in detention. FRANCE 24 met the family of a prominent activist behind bars.

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Alaa Abdel Fattahs last public appearance was in September 2019, when he was commemorating his father, Egypts prominent human rights activist and lawyer, Ahmed Seif El-Islam.

In an interview with FRANCE 24 on the sidelines of the event, the 38-year-old Egyptian software developer, blogger and activist talked about a familiar subject: fear.

“The fear is there. But also the defiance is there. It's always important to continue to defend our rights,” said Abdel Fattah.

Three weeks later, he was arrested once again and taken to Egypts notorious Tora maximum security prison, known as al-Aqrab, where “prison officers blindfolded him, stripped him of his clothing, beat and kicked him repeatedly”, according to Amnesty International.

Intimidation and opposition are a recurring theme in Abdel Fattahs family. His father was in and out of jails, under former Egyptian strongmen Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, while Abdel Fattah was a child. His mother, Laila Soueif, is a mathematics professor and well-known Egyptian human and womens rights campaigner. His sisters are also activists.

His whole life is about prison

Sitting at the dining table, Abdel Fattahs mother and sister, Mona Seif, smile as they sift through family photographs. Thats all they have of him for now.

“His whole life is about prison,” explains Seif of her brother who has been in and out of Egyptian prisons since the 2013 military coup ousted the countrys only democratically elected prisoner and a deadly crackdown on opposition figures commenced.

Abdel Fattah is not the only one. Since he came to power, Egypts latest strongman, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has overseen a period of abuses and brRead More – Source