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Egypt: At least 120 arrested for support of Palestine

Egyptian authorities holding 90 people in pre-trial detention since Gaza war began, says rights group
Egyptians take part in a pro-Palestine demonstration outside the Syndicate of Journalists in downtown Cairo on 18 October 2023 (AFP/Khaled Desouki)
Egyptians take part in a pro-Palestine demonstration outside the Syndicate of Journalists in downtown Cairo on 18 October 2023 (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

At least 120 people have been charged by Egyptian authorities for acts of solidarity with Palestinians since the war in Gaza began, according to an Egyptian rights group. 

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said in a report on Thursday that its lawyers had represented those arrested in eight separate cases before Egypt's Supreme State Security Prosecution. 

Of those arrested, 90 people - including two children - were still being held in pre-trial detention, according to EIPR. 

Most recently, on 30 April, five men were arrested from their homes in Alexandria for their activism within a Palestinian solidarity committee.

They appeared in court alongside Shadi Mohammed, a trade unionist from Alexandria accused of "establishing a terrorist group" with the aim of "overthrowing the regime", calling for gatherings and broadcasting false news to "disturb public peace".

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All six men are in pre-trial detention, according to the report. 

Another six Egyptians, including two children, were detained for writing expressions of support for Palestinians on Dar el-Salam bridge in Cairo. 

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The detentions began from the first month of the war in October 2023, according to EIPR. 

At least 28 people were arrested near Tahrir Square in Cairo on 24 and 25 October following mass protests against Israel's war on Gaza. They were detained under terrorism laws, without their families or lawyers being informed. 

Days later, 11 others were held in pre-trial detention for their role in pro-Palestine demonstrations that took place near al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo on 27 October. 

At least 11 others were arrested for posts they published in support of Palestinians on social media, the report said. 

An additional 14 were arrested for taking part in a protest outside the Journalists Syndicate in the capital in early April. 

Nineteen others - mostly female researchers, lawyers, journalists and students - were detained for participating in a protest outside the United Nations' Women headquarters in Cairo. 

Upholding rights

The EIPR underlined the "constitutional and legal obligation of all Egyptian authorities to guarantee and protect the right of all Egyptians to express their political opinion in all peaceful forms". 

It added that those rights extended to solidarity with Palestinians, denouncements of Israeli crimes, and "even to oppose the official Egyptian reaction to the war". 

"[We] call for the immediate release of all defendants arbitrarily arrested on the grounds of expressing their support for Palestine, and for all charges against them to be dropped," it said. 

The report comes just days after reports that Saudi Arabia had launched a crackdown on citizens who expressed views critical of Israel's war. 

According to Bloomberg, citing unnamed diplomatic sources, the detentions include an executive who works for a company involved in Vision 2030, the flagship economic project spearheaded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A second detainee is a media personality who had reportedly said that “Israel should never be forgiven”, and another is someone who called for a boycott of US fast-food restaurants in the kingdom.

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