Detention of young Sudanese in Egypt sparks protests in Sudan


Demonstrations have erupted in the Sudanese capital Khartoum earlier this week on the news of the arrest of a young Sudanese man in Egypt, accused of participating in recent protests against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Walid Abdulrahman Hassan was one of more than 2,000 people detained by Egyptian security forces in the past week, and like many others, he stands accused of participating in protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square against Sisi’s rule.

Hassan is being accused of participating in a conspiracy against the Egyptian constitutional system – a charge that can carry the death penalty under the law, and which Egyptian activists argue is being used to draw attention away from the legitimate grievances of the protest movement.

Demonstrations first began on 20 September, sparked by whistleblower Mohamed Ali’s allegations of high-level corruption and misspending of state funds, while many Egyptians suffer from poverty under stringent austerity measures.

Sudanese pro-democracy protesters have staged protests in residential areas of Khartoum, while the family of Hassan submitted a petition to the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling for it to intervene to free the 22-year-old man.

While Sudanese activists have coalesced in support of Hassan, analysts ponder how recent developments in Egypt, now witnessing the first significant mass protest movement since Sisi came to power in 2013, may have been influenced by Sudan’s own ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir earlier this year.

On Wednesday, Egyptian channel MBC Masr aired a segment in which prominent Egyptian TV presenter AmrAdib publicly revealed the identity of a number of foreigners arrested in the past week, and played several videos in which these individuals, including Hassan, confessed on camera to being involved in the organisation of the protests.

Hassan’s mother, Khadiga Abu al-Zaki, told MEE. “It’s more than painful to see my only son being accused of such serious crimes when I know that he is innocent.

“This video is staged, and the Egyptian presenter is lying,” she added. “I know my son well, he made these confessions either under torture or threat.”

According to Hassan’s uncle, MahyAldi Abu al-Zaki, the young accounting student arrived in Egypt for the first time in his life in late August in order to study German at an institute in Cairo, as universities in Sudan have been closed since the uprising began in the country last December.

The Sisi government has tried to dismiss the recent protests in Egypt by blaming them on foreign intervention and the Muslim Brotherhood – the organisation of Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected Egyptian president who was ousted in a military coup in 2013.

While emphasising that her son was not involved in events in Egypt, Khadiga said with pride that her son had a history of activism in his own country – noting that he was detained by Sudanese forces in September 2013 and in December 2018 for participating in anti-government demonstrations.

Hassan’s friends and relatives nonetheless vehemently rejected the Egyptian claims that the young Sudanese man was affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, pointing to his longstanding opposition to Islamist rule in Sudan under Bashir.

“Walid has made many sacrifices in Sudan’s revolution because he is against the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan, so how would he supported them in Egypt?” his friend Mohammed Saleh asked. “For someone to accuse him of supporting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood its unbelievable.”

Protests that began on Thursday in some residential areas of Khartoum such as Haj Youssef, Arkaweet Maamora and Burri quickly spread to outside the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum. (Source: MEE)