Public figures lambast recent arrests of activists

A number of public figures released a statement on Wednesday condemning the recent spate of activist arrests, slamming the current administration and deeming its approach reminiscent of the lead-up to the January 25 revolution.

The 70 signatories held the Interior Ministry responsible for the safety of the young people who had been detained, according to the statement. They demanded their immediate release, as well as that of people detained as a result of the Protest Law. They also warned the government that oppression will not work in the face of young people’s insistence to continue on the path of the revolution.

Among the signatories are leftist leader Ahmed Fawzy, journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah, political satirist Bassem Youssef, politician Bassem Kamel and rights lawyer Gamal Eid. The statement was also sighned by politician Gameela Ismail, Popular Current Party founder Hamdeen Sabahi, Journalists Syndicate board member Khaled al-Balshy, rights lawyer Khaled Ali, lawyer and former parliamentarian Ziad al-Alaimy, rights lawyer Tarek al-Awady, rights activist Aida Saif al-Dawla, novelist Alaa al-Aswany, and former ambassador Maasom Marzouk.

The last few days have witnessed a notable security crackdown, with a number of political activists rounded up including Mohamed Nabil, Sherif Ali, Ayman Osama, Mahmoud Hisham, and Sherif al-Rouby, all of whom belong to April 6 Youth Movement. They have been charged with belonging to a banned organization, protesting and calling for demonstrations.

Activist Khaled al-Sayed, along with 52 other defendants, was also referred to military trial Tuesday on charges of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and assassinating police officer Wael Tahoun.

Additionally, security forces have raided a number of cultural venues in downtown Cairo, resulting in the closure of the well-established Townhouse Gallery and Rawabet Theater. After an office raid the next day, prosecution also charged founder of Merit Publishing House Mohamed Hashem with publishing unregistered books and operating without a license.

“The signatories declare the utter condemnation for the arrests of a large number of political activists by security forces without accusations or with fabricated charges that have no proof. The Egyptian ruling regime is using the same policies against which the January 25 revolution erupted,” the statement said. “Freedoms are limited, diversity is prohibited, and security forces control every major and minor thing,” it added.

The signatories criticized the approach of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, arguing that it was based on the restriction of freedoms, rejection of public liberties, ban on protests, limiting public space and detention of opposition.

“These are the policies that will lead to nothing but more anger among the ranks of younger generations who see what Egypt and the revolution descended to,” the signatories declared. “Egyptian youth will not rest until a civil state, which respects diversity and public liberties, including the right of free speech and protest, is established.”

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