Egypt: Satirist troupe’s detention renewed, amounting to 75 days

atfal al-shawarea
A North Cairo court decided on 2 July 2016 to renew the detention of satirist troupe Street Children for yet another 15 days, reported Egyptian online news source Aswat Masriya on 2 July 2016. This latest renewal is the group’s fifth such consecutive ruling totalling 75 days in detention as they await ever-delayed court proceedings pending ongoing investigations.

On 23 June 2016, international human rights group Human Rights Watch called for Egyptian authorities to drop their investigation into the six young men in the troupe and to release four of the members who have been detained since 9 May 2016, saying the investigation “violates the right to free speech”.

The charges against the five members include “instigating a revolt against the government”, “forming a group aiming to challenge the principles of the state and ruling authorities”, “disseminating false information that disturbs public peace”, and “insulting state institutions and the president”. Further, Daily News Egypt reports that several lawsuits have been filed against the group for “religious contempt”. The charges carry up to a five-year prison term.

The troupe’s defence lawyer Mahmoud Othman told the rights group that apart from those charges, which carry up to a five-year prison sentence, prosecutors have threatened to bring up terrorism charges to the troupe’s young members.

The six-member troupe are known for performing satirical sketches and songs in public and posting videos online. In early May 2016 the troupe posted videos on their Facebook page poking fun at Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which landed them in prison. One member, 19-year-old Ezz el-Din Khaled, was arrested on 7 May 2016 and release on bail three days later. However, four other members were arrested on 9 May 2016 and remain in detention. The sixth member of the group has not been arrested, but is under investigation.

Local artists and activists created an online petition calling for the members’ release and to drop all charges against them.


Photo courtesy of Atfal al-Sharawea (Street Children)


Sources

» Aswat Masriya – 2 July 2016:
Court renews detention for ‘Street Children’ theatre group

» Human Rights Watch – 23 June 2016:
Egypt: Free satirical YouTube group

» Ahram Online – 23 June 2016:
HRW urges Egypt to release members of ‘Street Children’ satirical group

» Daily News Egypt – 21 June 2016:
Street Children band case referred to Supreme State Security Prosecution

» Daily News Egypt – 6 June 2016:
Street Children band members’ detention renewed for 15 days

» Daily News Egypt – 24 May 2016:
‘Street Children’ band members to remain in custody for another 15 days

» Daily News Egypt – 17 May 2016:
Religious contempt lawsuit casts shadow over ‘Street Children’


More from Freemuse

» 11 May 2016: Egypt: Five members of satirist troupe arrested

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