Dissident facing probe in Egypt

Egypt’s attorney general has referred an outspoken anti-Islamist former politician for investigation by police prosecutors over claims he called for the downfall of the regime, according to a statement.

The charge added to concerns that the government is backtracking on the democratic aims of the uprising that toppled the autocratic regime last year.

The complaint submitted against Mohamed Abu-Hamed by another former politician also accuses him of trying to mobilise Egypt’s minority Coptic Christians to protest and cause religious strife.

If the case is taken to court and he is found guilty, Mr Abu-Hamed would face a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Mr Abu-Hamed has a doctorate in Islamic theology and was the deputy leader of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, but split away to become an independent politician before parliament was dissolved.

The investigation against Mr Abu-Hamed comes two days after he led a march of around 3,000 people to the presidential palace to protest against the recently elected president, Mohammed Morsi, and his Muslim Brotherhood.

A number of other cases against critics of the Brotherhood, including TV host Tawfiq Okasha and newspaper editor Islam Afifi, who was briefly imprisoned, have stoked concerns that freedom of speech is being curbed, despite last year’s uprising that called for greater rights with the downfall of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

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