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Imprisoned socialist activist calls for "social justice" in letter

Socialist activist highlights the importance of challenging Egypt's 'classist' society
Revolutionary socialists reject both the Morsi and Sisi governments (AFP)

Mahienour El-Massry, prominent activist with the Revolutionary Socialists, has released a letter from prison detailing her experiences and condemning the continuing injustices of Egyptian society.

Mahienour El-Massry, a lawyer by trade, was sentenced, along with seven other activists, to two years in prison for violating Egypt’s Protest Law which bans protest without prior police notification.

She was arrested during a protest outside a court in Alexandria last December where the police officers charged with murdering political blogger Khaled Said were being tried.

The murder of Khaled Said in June 2010 is thought to have been one of the sparks that eventually led to the 25 January uprising in 2011.

El-Massry’s letter, addressed from ‘Block 1, Cell 8, Damanhour Women’s Prison’ and dated ‘May 22, 2014’ reveals El-Massry’s anger at the injustices of Egypt’s “classist” system.

“Prison is a microcosm of society,” she wrote in the letter, originally posted by one of her lawyers. “I feel I am amongst family. They are all giving me advice about focusing more on my career and my future once I’m out of here.”

“In response, I say Egyptian people deserve much better, that justice hasn’t been served yet, and we will keep on trying to build a better future.”

She emphasised the continuing importance of class struggle in Egypt. “While chanting against the Protest Law, we should be working on abolishing this classist system”, she wrote.

“[Working] on organizing ourselves and interacting with the underprivileged, on speaking out for their rights and building a vision for how to solve their problems.”

The Revolutionary Socialists are a Trotskyist organisation (linked to the British Socialist Workers Party) who advocate the theory of ‘permanent revolution’ and believe the revolution of January 25th should only have presaged a further revolution leading to the creation of a socialist state.

The group participated in the demonstrations against Mohamed Morsi’s government in June 2013, but after the military coup removed him from power they joined the Third Square group of activists who opposed supporting either Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood or the military government.

In her letter, El-Massry describes the wide range of political views among her fellow prisoners.

“You can find the whole political spectrum here,” she writes. “Some of them support Sisi in the hope that on becoming president he will issue pardons to all those who have been imprisoned for defaulting on payments. Others want him to become president believing that he will take a strong stance against “terrorist protests” and rule with an iron fist, even though they sympathize with me and feel that I am probably innocent. Others are pro-Sabbahi, as they see him as one of them.”

El-Massry finishes the letter on a call to action:

“Down with this classist society, something we will never accomplish if we forget those who have truly suffered injustice.”