Alaa Abd al-Fattah, symbol of Egypt’s youth revolution, has been on hunger strike for 100 days in Egyptian prisons

After more than 100 days of hunger strike in Egyptian prison, Alaa Abd al-Fattah is determined to continue struggling until his rights, and those of tens of thousands of political prisoners falsely imprisoned by al-Sisi’s regime, are recognized.  Israel maintains close cooperation with the dictatorial regime in Cairo, ignoring its shocking human rights record. Lapid and Bennett, like Netanyahu, are interested in cooperating with al-Sisi so that he will help them control the region and silence the Palestinians.

On Sunday, July 10, the new Israeli Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, had a phone conversation with Egyptian President Abd al Fattah al-Sisi. According to the report, the conversation dealt with the expected visit of US President Biden to the area, the Palestinian issue, and an investigation into the unknown fate of dozens of Egyptian commandos buried in Latrun in 1948.

Not on the agenda was the condition of Alaa Abd al-Fattah in Wadi a-Natrun prison, although the leaders were conversing on the 99th day of his hunger strike. The fate of Egypt’s prisoners of conscience is not an issue that interests anyone in the Israeli political system. In the eyes of the Israeli public, including the circles of Labor and Meretz, the Arab world is divided into lovers and haters of Israel. Accordingly, al-Sisi is considered a positive factor with whom one should maintain good relations. What dictators do at home vis-à-vis their political opponents, many of whom have no connection to terrorist and violent activity, is a matter of indifference here.

Although al-Sisi’s regime now appears to be stable, it is Alaa Abd al-Fattah and his comrades who represent the future of Egypt and indeed, the future of the entire region.

Alaa (41) is a leader of the young revolutionaries, a symbol of the generation that led the January 2011 revolution. Since then he has been in and out of prison for a decade. In 2013 he was arrested by the military government and imprisoned for 5 years for participating in an illegal demonstration. After being released in early 2019, he remained in his home for several months, until he was imprisoned again and sentenced to an additional five years on a fabricated charge of “spreading false information.”

For years he was held in the notorious Tora Prison south of Cairo, where he was denied access to books and newspapers. Contrary to Egyptian law and human rights conventions, the authorities also deny him the possibility to leave his cell for walking and sports, and visits of one person were allowed only every few weeks. Although he holds both British and Egyptian citizenship, Egyptian authorities prevent British embassy representatives from visiting him.

In response Alaa decided to commence an open hunger strike, demanding improved conditions.  The strike is carried out according to the method of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, and includes consumption of 100 calories per day (the average daily consumption of an adult in a state of inactivity is 2,400 calories). Begun in early April this year, it has been going on for more than 100 days.

About a month after the start of the strike, because of public pressure from within Egypt and the international arena, Alaa was transferred out of Tora Prison to Wadi a-Natrun Prison northwest of Cairo. Here the conditions are slightly improved. For example, he was allowed a mattress after being forced to sleep on exposed concrete for years. Yet Egyptian authorities still refuse his main demands, and do not allow him to receive visits from family, lawyers, or members of the British embassy.

Alaa Abd al-Fattah belongs to a revolutionary family. His sister Sanaa was imprisoned for 18 months and only recently released. His mother, Dr. Laila Soueif , is a lecturer in chemistry at Cairo University. She has accompanied him for ten years, visiting him regularly and speaking bravely for the freedom of the Egyptian people. His father, the lawyer Ahmad Saif al-Islam Abd al-Fattah died in 2014, while Alaa was in prison. During the Mubarak regime he was known as a leading jurist and human rights fighter; in 1999 he cofounded the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, a human rights group which he headed for years.

In 2021 Alaa published a book of articles in English entitled You Have Not Yet Been Defeated, in which he reviews years of struggle by the youth of Egypt’s Al-Shabab revolution.

Egyptian prisons – Torture and neglect resulted in the deaths of many

The call for the release of Alaa Abd al-Fattah has become a banner of the struggle against the al-Sisi, who is estimated to hold some 60,000 people in his prisons because of their views.

In anticipation of Biden’s visit to the Middle East and his meeting with al-Sisi in Saudi Arabia, the New York Times published a comprehensive investigation into arbitrary arrests in Egypt. The article was published on July 16 under the headline “Egypt’s Revolving Jailhouse Door: One Pretrial Detention After Another.

This is a comprehensive investigation that relies on the testimonies of volunteer lawyers who come daily to the courts in Cairo and elsewhere to locate detainees whose families have lost contact with them. These lawyers, together with the family members, prepare endless lists of detainees about whom the Egyptian authorities withhold information.

The investigation shows a Kafkaesque reality of pre-trial detention that lasts two years, after which new charges are often filed against the detainee. According to the report, the despair and difficult conditions have caused the deaths of hundreds of detainees since al-Sisi came to power.

Amnesty International also recently published a report on the extent of human rights violations in Egypt under the heading Egypt: Flawed investigation into death in custody missed opportunity for justice. The report focuses on the deaths of inmates held without trial (at least 52 deaths in 2021), citing credible reports that their deaths resulted from torture, abuse and denial of health services.


Torture and abuse are used especially during the interrogation phase and the first period of detention, as part of an attempt to extract confessions and punish dissidents. Human Rights Watch, as well as a public inquiry conducted by UN Committee Against Torture, found in separate investigations that torture in Egypt is systematic and widespread.

About Assaf Adiv