‘7 am’ female protesters given prison sentences

An Alexandria misdemeanors court sentenced 21 women and girls from the “7 am” movement to prison sentences ranging from 11 to 15 years on Wednesday.

Six leading members were sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia. Another 15, seven of whom are minors, were handed down 11-year prison sentences for “using violence, attacking security forces and destroying public property,” a statement by the 7 am group said. The seven, who are aged between 15 and 17, will be placed in state-run facilities for minors. 

The verdict is not final and will be appealed, their lawyer Mahmoud Gaber told Mada Masr. 

The 7 am movement was formed in October to protest the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, which they describe as a coup by the military. They also see the interim government as illegitimate. 

The 21 women and girls were arrested in early November as they attempted to form a human chain on the Alexandria corniche. 

In a statement on the 7 am Facebook page, the group “condemned in the strongest terms the court’s verdict,” saying it is a violation of the right to protest and freedom of expression. The group further described the verdict and the trial of the girls as a “shame on those supporting the coup.”

In the statement, the group vowed an escalation in protest action in the coming days that will “will not fall outside the context of peacefulness.”

Wednesday’s hearing was the second session of the trial, which started last week after the group had been kept in detention pending investigation.

“The property being referred to is a glass door that was fractured,” Gaber, told Mada Masr early on Wednesday.

A solidarity protests held outside Alexandria’s Mansheya district court on Wednesday was dispersed by security forces, who used tear gas and chased protesters down the corniche away from the court, he added.

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights confirmed reports of the dispersal of protests on its official Twitter account. Security was tightened in Alexandria ahead of anticipated solidarity protests.

Security installed electronic gates at the court, according to the website of state-owned paper Akhbar, and prevented the families of the accused from attending. Only lawyers and journalists were allowed to enter.