Egyptian youngsters detained over satire video mocking government

Satire group, Street Children, have been accused of 'promoting ideas calling for terrorists acts'

Caroline Mortimer
Wednesday 11 May 2016 01:21 BST
Journalists protesting against press restrictions in Cairo
Journalists protesting against press restrictions in Cairo (Getty Images)

Four young Egyptians have been detained by police in Cairo after being accused of mocking the government in a satirical video.

A fifth member of the group, who call themselves the Street Children, was released on bail after being arrested on Saturday.

Mahmud Ottman, a lawyer for the four still behind bars, said they were arrested late on Monday evening while visiting a friend.

Mohammed Adel, Mohmmed Gabr, Mohammed al-Dessouki and Mohammed Yehya were remanded in custody for 15 days after being accused of “promoting ideas calling for terrorists acts by posting a video on social networks and YouTube”, Mr Ottoman said.

They were also accused of “incitement to take part in demonstrations disturbing the public order” and “inciting mobs to commit hostile actions against state institutions”.

In the video they mock the devaluation of the Egyptian currency and the recent return of a two small islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, Agence France Presse reported.

The incident is the latest in a series of attacks on journalists, satirists, activists and lawyers by the increasingly autocratic state.

Since the overthrow of the unpopular but democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Egypt’s military leaders have gone to great lengths to suppress dissent.

Hundreds of people have been sentenced to death in mass trials which have been denounced by the UN.

In February, a four-year-old boy was sentenced to life in prison in absentia for committing four murders, attempting another eight, vandalising property and threatening police officers after being mixed up with someone else during a mass trial.

In 2013, three Al Jazeera journalists were detained, tried and convicted of reporting “false news” which was “damaging to national security”.

One of the journalists, Australian Peter Greste, was released in 2015 and deported.

His Egyptian colleagues, Baher Mohammed and Mohamed Fahmy, were released a few weeks later after being pardoned by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

A survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said that Egypt now has the second highest number of journalists behind bars in the world behind China.

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