A number of inmates in Egypt’s jails have been pardoned by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in time for the Muslim festival of Eidul Adha. None of the 550 pardoned, however, are from amongst the thousands of political prisoners and young people detained indefinitely, and on death row for being aligned with the opposition or for being peaceful dissenters.
Those benefiting from the presidential pardon will be petty criminals and people convicted of crimes that do not involve national security. None will be prisoners who have been forced to prove their innocence through a biased judicial system for opposing Sisi’s regime.
Egypt currently holds more than 40,000 political prisoners who oppose the government or have taken part in protests. Anti-government demonstrations, no matter how peaceful, are illegal under Egyptian law unless approved in advance by the interior ministry.
For the Sisi regime, the definition of political prisoners carries a different meaning to that normally held elsewhere. “There are no political prisoners in Egypt,” claims the former general. “There are only people who are held in custody pending investigations. Only those who carry out violent acts against the state, such as terrorism and bombings, get detained.” This is patently untrue.
Last year, Sisi issue presidential pardons for 100 prisoners, including Al-Jazeera journalists Baher Mohammad and Mohammad Fahmy as well as opposition activists. However some of those “pardoned” 12 months’ ago are still awaiting their release date.