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Egypt: authorities release critics of high prices

A view of a store in Cairo, Egypt on 21 March 2022 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]
A view of a store in Cairo, Egypt on 21 March 2022 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

The Egyptian authorities have released three young Egyptian social media content makers who were arrested for "spreading false news" after they broadcast a video mocking the recent price increases, an Egyptian human rights group has revealed.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said on Sunday that the State Security Prosecution decided on Saturday to release the defendants who in March broadcast a video on Tik Tok in which they mocked the high cost of food in Egypt. Houseware items were held like musical instruments as the three sang sarcastic lyrics to the well-known tune of a romantic song.

Egyptians have had to resort to using their savings to offset the effects of rampant inflation after the price index jumped 12.1 per cent, the highest rate in three years. This was caused by the Central Bank decision to devalue the local currency by 18 per cent against the US dollar. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also resulted in a global rise in food and fuel prices.

According to the EIPR, "The three young men headed voluntarily to the State Security headquarters in Asyut Governorate and were detained. At the Higher State Security Prosecution in Cairo on 18 and 19 April the prosecution charged them with joining a terrorist group and spreading false news."

READ: Egypt: food insecurity is the spectre waiting in the wings

Egypt has witnessed a wave of releases of political prisoners. Nevertheless, human rights groups still put the number of such prisoners in Egypt at about 60,000 people, a figure denied by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Moreover, just last week, Reporters Without Borders released the World Press Freedom Index for 2022. Egypt was placed 168 out of 180 countries, down two places on last year.

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