Egypt’s Sisi orders release of 165 youths ahead of Ramadan

Cairo, June 18 (IANS) Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ordered the release of 165 young people who have been in custody over violating the new anti-protest law, a media report said.

Sisi’s presidential decree was made on Wednesday on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that is going to start worldwide on Thursday.

Sisi ordered the interior ministry that the released youths should spend the first day of Ramadan with their family members at their homes, Xinhua reported, citing MENA news agency.

Sisi’s leadership has been facing internal and external criticism from human rights activists over alleged crackdown on freedoms.

The issue started with the approval of the controversial anti-protest law adopted in late 2013 that led to the imprisonment of youth activists who took part in mass protests against former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi that paved the way for Sisi’s rule.

Wednesday’s list of released young people excluded jailed well-known activists like April 6 Youth Movement founder Ahmed Maher, liberal activists Ahmed Doma and Alaa Abdel-Fattah, and female lawyer and activist Mahinour al-Masry.

Since Morsi’s removal by then-army chief Sisi in July 2013, security forces have been launching crackdown on opposition in general and the affiliates of the currently-blacklisted Brotherhood group in particular.

Egyptian courts are currently holding mass trials for thousands of Morsi’s supporters.

In its annual report released in late May, Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights said that the violence since Morsi’s removal has resulted in the deaths of 2,600 people, including 700 police and army men, 550 civilians, and 1,250 Brotherhood members and supporters.

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