Written by: Ahmed Gamal Ziada
He was a member of the Revolution’s Youth Coalition (RYC) and the founder of the Egyptian Current Party, a revolutionary youth party opposing the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group and the army’s intervention in politics. Then, he joined the Egypt Strong Party headed by Dr. Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh- who is currently detained- and became its deputy president. This is the story of the politician Mohamed al-Qassas who “chose to back his own country”.
Al- Qassas had begun to engage in the political work since he was a student at the Faculty of Dar Al-Ulum (college of science). He was -then-a member at the MB before he decided to split off from the group in May 2011, i.e. in the wake of the January 25 Revolution after disagreeing with its leaders.
Al-Qassas was a representative of the MB. He met activist Ziad Al Alimi, who was a representative of the Revolutionary Socialists students, and get to know him. And despite having different political affiliations, they shared manifold forms of coordination, such as “Kefaya” (Enough) Movement, the National Association for Change, Parallel Parliament and many other factions.
He had been working a lot for long years to establish many sectors in his university, and paid the price when he was sent to prison believing that what he is doing is for the benefit of his homeland. “And when the MB sought power, he chose his country instead, and as a result, the MB chose to suspend him”, these are words written a year ago by lawyer and activist Ziad Al Alimi defending Mohamed al-Qasas in an article carries title “My Terrorist Friend”.
The crackdown on Mohamed al-Qassas didn’t begin by sending him to prison. On the first of January 2018, the State Security service, AKA “National Security Agency”, barred al-Qassas twice from traveling to Tunisia in two consecutive days without any legal warrant or a decision by the Public Prosecution, in a gross negligence towards the law and a clear sense of impunity.
Prior to that, in January 2017, al-Qassas was placed on the terrorist lists, among 1,500 figures, most notably former Egypt’s national football star Mohamed Abu Treika, upon a decision by the Cairo Criminal Court that will last for three years.
This wasn’t the first time al-Qassas languishes behind bars; he previously endured the darkness of prison before the January uprising. In an article he wrote on 25 July 2015, he said: “I know this feeling very well; the feeling when Eid (Feast) is approaching while you are languishing inside the four walls of prison without committing any fault, and while being deprived of your relatives, loved ones, and friends. This is a feeling that I, unfortunately, experienced before, and I know well how every detainee may suffer in this day and how his family and friends may suffer too.”
Al-Qassas recounts his prison experience, saying: “I remember I was detained in Tora Prison during one of our feasts, and got surprised when they called my name in the very early morning. I rushed out to find my father- May God have mercy on his soul- and he was an elderly man who suffered from kidney failure. I found him in complete loss of consciousness, after standing for a long time in the hot sun awaiting them to allow him to see me- as he insisted to visit me on the first day of Eid- which made him fell into a faint. So, they let him in and brought him a doctor until he regained his consciousness. I never forget this day and the feeling of oppression it left me with”.
Al-Qassas ended his article saying: “As for us, we will not accept this injustice, we will not refrain from talking about it, and we will not stop praying that God takes revenge from the oppressors”.
Al-Qassas was attending a wedding party of one of his friends. After the party is over, he took his car and it was 5 PM on the 8th of February 2018, but shortly thereafter he ‘disappeared’. In the meantime, the security forces broke into the house of al-Qassas in the absence of its inhabitants.
Then the next day, he appeared before the Attorney General of the Supreme State Security Prosecution, who ruled to imprison him for 15 days pending investigations on charges of; cooperating with the Muslim Brotherhood in the incitement against state institutions and holding organizational meetings with members of the MB-affiliate armed movement to carry out operations in conjunction with the presidential elections.
The Prosecution also accused the defendant of; spreading false news on the country’s political and economic situation with the aim of disturbing the general peace, within the framework of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group’s objectives, and propagating the group’s goals which include undermining trust in the Egyptian state and its institutions. The charges come as part of the case No. 977/2017, known in media as “Mekameleen II” case, which also involves: Islam al-Refaei (Khorm), photojournalists Ahmed Hamouda al-Sakhawi and Ahmed Abdul Wahab Mohamed Ali, journalists Ahmed Abdul Aziz and Hossam al-Suweifi, and others.
Seizure of his house and car
On 15 February 2018, the Supreme State Security Prosecution decided to hand over al-Qassas’ house and car to his family, after the security forces seized them following his arrest. His wife Mrs. Iman al-Badini had been prevented for 55 days from entering the house. She posted on the social networking website “Facebook” what she said in her testimony that some of the house’s items were stolen:”Thanks God, the apartment has just been handed over to me, but the gold jewels belongs to me and my daughter “Zeina” as well as my husband, family and friends’ gifts to me and my daughter were stolen. Of course, the police refused to hand over it under a communiqué, and that’s why I couldn’t prove anything”.
Some of the violations al-Qassas subjected to:
Being held in solitary confinement inside the notorious (Aqrab) Scorpion Prison
Seizing his house and car for more than 44 days
Stealing his house’s items and contents
Denying family visitation for more than 70 days
Preventing him from reading newspapers or books in prison
Denying him any physical activity or daily exercise
Demonizing him in media, and accusing him of terrorism by some of the non-professional regime-backed TV channels and newspapers