Yesterday was the first anniversary of the arrest and incarceration of three al-Jazeera journalists in Cairo. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were charged with broadcasting false news and aiding a 'terrorist organisation' (the Muslim Brotherhood). Al-Jazeera rejects the charges. 'They’re not terrorists, they’re journalists,' Lindsey Hilsum, the Channel 4 News international editor, told me at a protest outside the Egyptian embassy in London. 'Everybody knows that. President El-Sisi knows that. It’s completely insane that they’re still in prison.'
A video of the imprisoned al-Jazeera journalist Abdullah El-Shamy was released online two days ago. The 26-year-old, arrested by the Egyptian authorities last summer, has yet to be charged. He has been on hunger strike for more than 100 days. According to his family, he has lost a third of his body weight, dropping from 108 kg to 68 kg. In the video, he says the Egyptian regime is responsible for his condition, and will be responsible if he dies. He says he has received no medical care in prison, and his requests to be seen by an independent doctor have been denied.
I was interviewing the 'Bride of Sisi', as she called herself, when a crowd gathered around me and another journalist and accused us of working for a 'terrorist' news channel. Saadiya al-Sayed al-Sayed, a 48-year-old mother of two from the working-class area of al-Marg, had said she would like General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to be her and Egypt’s husband. 'We are scared for our children, for our country. Those people' – the Muslim Brotherhood – 'are coming to set the country on fire. We are a kind-hearted people, and we want those who are going to take care of us. Sisi said Egyptians are his beloved, and we like those who are tender with us.' The hundreds of women in the crowd around her, many of them with Sisi’s picture around their necks, began chanting, and she joined in: 'The people want the execution of the Muslim Brotherhood. The people want the execution of the Muslim Brotherhood.' Over and over, louder and louder.
Abdelrahman Mohamed Zanaty stood for three hours at the entrance to Tora prison this morning. The 20-year-old was waiting to see his father, Mohamed, a doctor at a Cairo field hospital, who was arrested on 14 July after treating wounded supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
Gunshots crackle on a hot day in August. The residents of Mallawi, a town in southern Egypt, talk about whether people are raiding the police station or robbing the bank. Bands of young men in civilian clothes roam the rubble-strewn streets with assault rifles. After dark it’s best to stay indoors.