Alber Saber Ayyad is an Egyptian pro-democracy blogger who ran a Facebook page for atheists. When a neighbor discovered Saber's connection to the page, word spread and on 13 September 2012, an angry mob formed at Saber's house. The police arrived, and instead of dispersing the mob and arresting those threatening to burn the house down, they arrested Saber and accused him of the crime of insulting Islam.
There are already reports that Saber was attacked with a razor blade while in jail, after guards told his fellow Muslim inmates why he was imprisoned. His family fears for his life.
Across Egypt, radical Muslims are reacting with violence to anti-Islamic and pro-secular ideas. Now more than ever, it is crucial for the government of Egypt to make it clear that they support the free, peaceful expression of all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof). By continuing to detain, abuse, and potentially prosecute Alber Saber, Egypt sends a message to the rest of the world: debate and discussion are dead, and ignorance and intolerance reign.
President Mohamed Morsi promised to be the president of all Egyptians. We want him to prove it. As concerned citizens who value free and open expression, we demand that Egyptian authorities release Alber Saber at once and provide fully for his safety and the safety of all Egyptians who are currently targeted by religious extremists.
Mena Bassily is keeping a close watch on the situation and is in direct contact with Alber's friends and family. You can follow him on Twitter: @MenaBassily
Mena tells me that no one has been able to contact Alber for several days. He tweeted this statement that Alber's (Coptic Christian) mother gave on TV last night (19 Sept):
"My son has been tortured for 3 days in jail. Alber is being tortured. Lawyers left the case after receiving death threats. Police broke into her home and took all the document without a warrant. No lawyer wants to represent Alber after lawyers received death threats. D.A asked Alber about his religion and if he performs religious rituals. Only Christians get sentenced for blasphemy in Egypt. The angry mob tried to break in and kill us. The angry mob threatened to burn the house and the nearby church. Alber's face had many marks of beating and neck bleeding. Police and DA have asked me what is my and Alber's religion. Alber friends and organizations trying to help have received many threats"
On Twitter? Use the hashtag #freealber