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Egypt detains ten pro-Palestine protesters on charges of 'spreading fake news'

Young men detained after chanting against Sisi's role in Gaza siege during protest at the Journalists' Syndicate
Egyptian activists take part in a protest in front of the Journalists Syndicate in Cairo on 3 April 2024 (X/@sherif_azer)
Egyptian activists protest in front of the Journalists' Syndicate in Cairo on 3 April 2024 (X/@sherif_azer)

Egyptian security forces on Thursday detained 10 young men who took part in a protest that denounced Egypt’s role in the siege on Gaza.

According to Hossam Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the detainees have been referred to the Supreme State Security Prosecution for investigations. 

They are facing charges of "collaborating with a terrorist group" and "spreading and publishing fake news".

Wednesday’s demonstration was held in front of the Journalists' Syndicate in Cairo, where dozens of journalists and activists gathered to protest against the ongoing Israeli onslaught on Gaza.

Activists shared videos of one of the protesters chanting against business tycoon and government ally Ibrahim al-Organi, whose companies have been charging Palestinians thousands of dollars to exit Gaza.

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The government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been criticised for failing to challenge Israel's siege on Gaza during the current conflict, and for allowing state-linked companies to profit from the movement of people and aid via the Rafah crossing. 

The Rafah crossing in northeast Egypt is the only gateway for Gaza that is not directly controlled by Israel. But since 7 October it has opened only intermittently. Egypt blames Israel for the closure of the crossing, as Israel has imposed strict checks on all trucks entering Gaza via Rafah. 

'Egypt is aiding Israel': The Palestinians charged a fortune to escape Gaza's war
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Egypt has effectively banned protests since Sisi came to power over a decade ago, and security forces routinely suppress any anti-government activity.

Egyptian security forces have detained dozens of pro-Palestine protesters since 20 October, when thousands took part in a rally in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, which symbolises the revolution that culminated in the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Following the crackdown on that mass uprising, protests have been smaller in size and quickly dispersed by security officials.

On 30 November, four international activists were detained and held incommunicado for over 27 hours, following a pro-Palestine protest outside the Egyptian foreign ministry in Cairo.

They had staged a rally to demand security clearance for the Global Conscience Convoy, a humanitarian convoy into Gaza, planned by Egypt's Journalists' Syndicate, to deliver badly needed aid.

Security forces dispersed a women's pro-Palestine protest in Cairo on 8 March to mark International Women's Day.

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