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Egypt arrests women for demanding release of prisoners during pandemic

March 19, 2020 at 2:44 pm

Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif (R), academic Rabab El-Mahdi (C) and human rights activist Laila Soueif (L) protest demanding the release of Egypt’s political detainees amid coronavirus outbreak [Facebook]

The Egyptian security forces arrested three female relatives of well-known political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah today for staging a protest to demand the immediate release of all detainees amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak inside prisons.

Former Egyptian presidential candidate and lawyer Khaled Ali said on Facebook that all detainees are being held at the Qasr Al-Nil police station in Cairo. It is now understood that they have been released on bail.

The arrests took place earlier this morning after Abdel Fattah’s family organised a protest near the council of ministers and parliament buildings demanding his release along with other political activists. The fear was that the virus could hit Egypt’s overcrowded prisons, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe.

READ: Egypt’s new capital halts construction as 20 workers test positive for COVID-19

Abdel Fattah’s family has been banned from visiting him for two weeks now. The Interior Ministry stopped all prison visits as part of the government’s efforts to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

Alaa Abdel Fattah was arrested on 29 September last year only one day after he had ended his surveillance period.