Last November, blogger Mohamed Adel, or General Mait (dead), was detained because of a photograph taken of him, with a Palestinian Hamas official. The damning evidence was clicked when Adel participated in a humanitarian caravan to the Gaza Strip.
Since then, Egyptian activists and bloggers have been left scratching their heads, thinking of ways to draw attention to the plight of their detained colleague. Their efforts included posting banners over Facebook, holding Press conferences and even going on open strikes in front of the General Prosecutor office. All this amounted to nothing, forcing them to come up with a totally a new idea.
On February 2, an online initiative called “Operation General Mait” was launched in solidarity with Mohamed Adel. A group of Egyptian bloggers were photographed with fake AK-47's and toy guns. They were imitating Adel's photograph holding a gun with Hamas leaders that was used as evidence against him by the Egyptian government.
Mina Zekry explains the initiative to Alexandra Sandels on MENASSAT as follows:
“Our aim is mainly to bring attention to how ridiculous the (Egyptian) government's photo fabrications are (of cyber-activist Mohammed Adel). We are trying to cut-off an escalation of the process against him,” Mina Zekry, a prominent blogger and “Free-Adel” campaigner told MENASSAT on Tuesday.
Posing in photos with fake AK-47s and toy guns, Zekry is part of a new initiative launched on February 2 called “Operation General Meit” – meit being Adel's blog title (and nickname) that translates to “Already Dead.”
Prominent Egyptian bloggers Wael Abbas, Zekry, Mohammed Gamal, and Egyptian human rights activist Noov Sevary launched the online campaign in solidarity with Adel, a 20-year old IT student and blogger who was arrested on a Cairo street in November of last year.
No formal charges have been brought against Adel, but sources in Cairo say that he could face charges of “terrorism and involvement in an armed organization” because of photos he took in Gaza last year.
Among the founders, Wael Abbas was the first to publicly announce the launch of the campaign's first phase on his Jaiku profile and on his blog, where he was photographed in a picture cross-legged and his finger raised in the air, mimicking an Islamist about to convey his message to the world.
In his Jaiku message, Abbas says:
The first phase of “Operations general mait” is -with phots- on Misrdigital, Mina Zekry and Mo Taher blogs. Followed shotly on Gemyhood, and Asaad blogs. Invitation is open for participation.
Mo EL Taher who is also running Free Adel blog wrote:
كل الناس تدون تانى عن عادل وتحط البنر على مدونتها علشان ماننساش ان فية واحد اتسجن واتعذب ولسة ماخرجش علشان بيعبر عن رأية
Adel is still detained. People stopped writing about him because of Gaza's events; but now Gaza's events are much quieter and we should return to writing about him.
Everybody should blog about Adel, and place banners on their blogs so as not to forget that one of us has been imprisoned and tortured because he was expressing his views.
Going on further, Leftist Egyptian and Ahmed AbdelFattah fabricated an Osama Bin Laden reaction to the campaign:
كرد فعل اولي على عملية العميد ميت اعلن اليوم شيخ المجاهدين أسامة بن لادن في تسجيل صوتي جديد بثتة قناة الجزيرة، افاد فيه تأيده و مباركته التامة للعملية و القائمين عليها من حركة 30 فبراير بالجناح العسكري بكتائب الشهيد مالك مصطفى، كما اعلن ايضاً استعداده التام لدعم الكتائب بجسر جوي يوفر ذخائر الخرز البيلاستيكي برتقالي اللون…
As an initial response to the operation, Sheikh of Mojahedeen Osama Bin Laden announced today, in a new audiotape broadcast by Al Jazeera television, his full support to those who made it from the February 30th military wing of the Martyr Malik Mostafa. Bin Laden also announced his readiness to support the battalions with an air bridge to provide ammunition of orange beads …
Blogger Mostafa, who was supposed to join the campaign, wrote a different point of view:
تحمست لمشاركة المدونين ووعدتهم بمشاركتهم بشراء سلاح بلاستيكي و إلتقاط صورة و نشرها هنا. ولكن شيئ ما منعي.
فالكلاشنكوف (أو أي سلاح) كان قاسم مشترك في قصص تهديد و إغتصاب و قتل و تعذيب و إرهاب و تدمير و خطف و تشريد و هجرة سمعتها بنفسي.
أعذروني أنا أكرة الأسلحة فهي دمرت حياة ناس كثيرة أعرفهم. و البلاستيك منها يمجد العنف.
الحرية لمحمد عادل و القلم و لوحة المفاتيح و الكاميرا.
I was enthusiastic to join the bloggers, and promised them to participate by buying a plastic weapon, then to publish my picture on my blog. However, something stopped me.
Kalashnikov (or any weapon) was a common thing in all stories I've heard myself of threat, rape, murder, torture, terrorism, kidnapping, destruction, displacement and migration.
Excuse me, I hate weapons as they have destroyed the lives of many people I know. And plastic ones glorify violence.
Yet, Freedom is to Adel and to the pen, the keyboard and the camera!
Five days after the launch of phase one of “Operations General Mait,” more and more people are joining the campaign. And you can follow their activities, as well as media coverage, on their Facebook group.