Egypt Releases Foreigners Accused of Supporting Terrorism During Anti-Sisi Protests
Egypt released six foreigners accused of supporting terrorism and fomenting public unrest for their participation in the anti-Sisi protests that rippled through Egypt in late September.
On Thursday, Egyptian authorities released six foreigners who were detained amidst mass protests on September 20 against Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
A statement by the Egyptian prosecutor general read that the release of the foreigners came by request from their embassies and was conditional upon the foreigners immediately leaving Egypt after being released from custody.
A spokesperson for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, Sofian al-Qudah, confirmed in a statement the release by Egyptian authorities of two Jordanian nationals who were arrested during anti-government protests on September 20. The statement named the two released as Abdel Rahman Hussien al-Rawajbeh and Thaer Matar.
Four other foreigners – two Turkish, a Palestinian and a Dutch – were among those released Thursday, according to the website Egypt Today.
The foreigners were all accused of collaborating with the outlawed Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Group to disturb public order and create a state of chaos throughout Egypt. They were also accused of providing financial support for terrorists and training them on how to use specialty weapons.
The prosecutor general’s statement added that an investigation into the foreigners’ activity was still underway despite their release and that more findings will be announced.
Egypt Today also reported that well-known Egyptian TV presenter, Amr Adib, broadcast a video showing passports of the arrested along with videotaped confessions about taking part in the protests against Sisi. Adib said the arrested foreigners confessed to conspiring against Egypt. The video was broadcast during an episode of Adib’s popular talk show, “Al Hekaya” or the Tale, aired on MBC Misr.
Reacting to the MBC Misr video, Jordanian spokesperson Qudah told Jordanian Radio Station “Al-Qakil” that the Egyptian authorities did not interrogate the arrested Jordanians.
Unprecedented Anti-Sisi Protests
Egypt’s Attorney General, Hamada al-Sawi, has ordered an investigation into the anti-Sisi protests that ripped through Egypt in late September. The protests were sparked by videos posted to social media by Egyptian actor and building contractor Mohammad Ali accusing Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi of corruption.
The now self-exiled Ali made allegations that Sisi and other Egyptian high-ranking military officers were involved in financial corruption and wasteful spending on luxuries. Ali accused Sisi of spending millions on luxury presidential palaces and hotels while Egyptian citizens suffered through poverty. Ali himself has worked as a building contractor with the Egyptian military for more than 15 years before he showed up on social media, alleging the complicity by the Sisi regime.
Sisi downplayed Ali’s allegations claiming the palaces were built for all of Egypt and not himself personally.
“Yes, I have built presidential palaces, and will continue to do so. I am creating a new state; nothing is registered with my name, it is built for Egypt,” Sisi told the eighth National Youth Conference in New Cairo in early Septemeber before the outbreak of protests.
The president’s remarks and Ali’s allegations of corruption and lavish spending come as the country has gone through recent economic hardships compelling the Egyptian government to impose austerity measures.
According to Middle East Eye, Egyptian authorities said in July that the country’s poverty rate had reached 32.5 percent, up from 25.2 percent in 2011.
Protests against Sisi are unprecedented since the Egyptian President took office after toppling former late Islamist president Mohammad Morsi under mass pressure during the June 2013 revolution.
The now-current president Abdel-Fatah Sisi, who served as defense minister of Egypt under the former government, took office for the second time in 2018’s elections, winning 95% of the votes. In April 2019 an amendment to Egypt’s constitution passed allowing Sisi to extend his term as president until 2030.
In 2011 the Egyptian revolution overthrew President Hosni Mubarak who ruled Egypt for 30 years. One year later, a presidential election brought to power the first democratically elected president of Egypt Mohammad Morsi. Morsi, who died a few months ago in prison, belonged to the outlawed Islamic Brotherhood of Egypt.