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Cleric claims Egypt's prisons like resorts where prisoners treated like guests

A picture taken during a guided tour organised by Egypt's State Information Service on February 11, 2020, shows an Egyptian police officer entering the Tora prison on the southern outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP) (Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images)

An Egyptian cleric has claimed that Egypt's prisons are like resorts where the prisoners are treated like guests after a human rights report criticised the conditions that detainees are kept.

Prisons in Egypt are "no longer called prisons, but instead are called civil protection, and a prisoner is now a guest, just like at a hotel or resort," said Sheikh Khaled Al-Jundi.

The comments came after the Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR) reported on hunger strikes and several attempted suicides in the notorious Scorpion Prison reports the New Arab.

The report held the Tora Prison authorities responsible for the death of political prisoner Tjuddin Abdel-Qader Allam who had a heart attack after being denied medical help.

The report recorded 35 new prisons being built since the 2011 uprising making a total of 78 prisons and said that there are roughly 65,000 political prisoners in the country. 

Al-Jundi also said that the interior ministry focused on rehabilitating the prisoners through reading, sports, religious practices, and recreational activities.

He added that he was shocked by the "high-standards" inside prisons.

READ: Rights report accuses Egypt prison of inmate's death

Last year, the interior ministry banned prison visits under the pretext that it was attempting to stop the spread of COVID-19, however, rights activists said it was a punitive measure for people who had been outspoken against the government.

At the beginning of this month rights organisations reported that security forces in Gamasa Prison forced the wives and children of detainees to walk barefoot over sand in the blazing heat to meet their relatives which amounts to psychological and physical abuse.

Prison authorities do not provide prisoners in Egypt with medication or soap so they rely on their families to provide them with this. However, if they are not allowed visits, they are left short of food or personal hygiene items.

Prisoners are only allocated limited hours for exercising and using the bathroom and are often kept in solitary confinement for months at a time.

In August the political prisoner known as Mocha attempted suicide after being kept in such dire conditions following an unsuccessful hunger strike to protest against the conditions of his detention.

In July the blogger known as Oxygen overdosed on sleeping pills but later recovered in hospital.

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