Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Ferguson and race relations in the US

Read more

DEBATE

Hollande and Africa: French President Speaks to France 24

Read more

FOCUS

Thiaroye: a dark chapter in France and Senegal's common history

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

The 'Stagnation Trap', with Catherine Mann, Chief Economist at OECD

Read more

ENCORE!

'An American in Paris', a truly transatlantic collaboration

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Oil prices 'could fall further' without OPEC output cut

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

How not to argue over Thanksgiving dinner

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Just how green is François Hollande?

Read more

WEB NEWS

USA: African Americans call for boycott of 'Black Friday'

Read more

Africa

Egyptian women jailed for pro-Morsi protest

© Photo: AFP

Video by Kathryn STAPLEY

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-29

An Egyptian court sentenced 21 '7am movement' activists to jail on Thursday for participating in a rally in support of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, while police also arrested a leading activist for encouraging protests.

Twenty-one women demonstrators were handed heavy jail sentences on Thursday while a high-profile activist was arrested at his home for encouraging street demonstrations, which opposition figures argue indicates that Egypt is returning to its autocratic past.

The women and girls were given jail sentences of up to 11 years for taking part in a violent protest in support of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. The heavy sentences, coupled with the age of the women – seven of them are under 18, the youngest is 15 – has sparked outrage in some circles.

“Many people are very angry here, a lot of people think the charges against the girls don't warrant their harsh sentences,” Kathryn Stapley reported from Cairo. “Human rights activists have pointed out that police officers who have been convicted of murder have got much lighter sentences,” she said.

Amnesty International reacted by saying they should never have been arrested and called for their immediate and unconditional release.

It said their imprisonment sends a "strong signal that there will be no limit to the authorities' efforts to crush opposition and that no one is immune from their iron fist".

The women were part of what is known as the “7am movement”, a group of activists who distributed fliers in support of Morsi. The women were arrested on October 31 during a demonstration in support of the deposed president.

Stapley said that the short time between the arrest of the girls and their sentencing on Thursday had raised suspicions that they had not been granted a fair trial. “This also raised questions as to whether the case was politically motivated,” she said.

Home arrest for high-profile activist

Meanwhile, police arrested a leading activist on Thursday for calling for protests in breach of a new law that heavily restricts demonstrations.

Alaa Abdel Fattah, a symbol of the 2011 uprising against then president Hosni Mubarak, was arrested at his home, security officials said. He had earlier issued a statement saying he planned to turn himself into the prosecutor on Saturday.

The protest law passed on Sunday has heightened fears about the future of political freedom in Egypt after the military overthrew Morsi in July.

The law gives the interior ministry the right to ban any meeting of more than 10 people in a public place.

Since Morsi's ouster, the security forces have mounted a fierce crackdown on members of his Muslim Brotherhood, killing hundreds at violent protests and arresting thousands more.

Abdel Fattah's wife wrote on her Twitter feed that the police had beaten her while arresting her husband. "They stole both our laptops and both our mobiles," she wrote.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-11-29

  • EGYPT

    Morsi declares himself Egypt's president at trial

    Read more

  • US - EGYPT

    Egypt condemns US move to freeze military aid

    Read more

  • US - EGYPT

    US freezes military, economic aid to Egypt

    Read more

COMMENT(S)