Police begin mass arrest campaign ahead of Apr 25 protests

Friday 22-04-2016 05:22 PM

Activists protest Sisi's transfer of the Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia in front of the Journalists' Syndicate on April 15th, 2016. (ASWAT MASRIYA/ Mohamed al-Raai)

CAIRO, Apr. 22 (Aswat Masriya) – Security forces arrested at least 40 people on Thursday night during a series of raids on downtown Cairo’s cafés, a security source told Aswat Masriya, days ahead of protests planned for Apr. 25.

While most of those arrested were released later, 14 people are getting interrogated, including Syrians who do not have residency paperwork, the security source also said. He added that another person was arrested for “debauchery” inside a furnished apartment.

Eyewitnesses also told Aswat Masriya that tens of people were arrested from the downtown cafés.   

The cafés were targeted “to arrest outlaws, people who have escaped trials, and to fend off the supporters of the terrorist organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood about the Homeland Security apparatus received information that they are planning to protest on Sinai Liberation Day,” the security source said.

Last Friday, thousands of protesters gathered in front of the press syndicate under the slogan "Friday of the Land" to protest against a recently signed Egyptian-Saudi agreement.  The agreement, which is yet to be ratified by the parliament, stipulates that Egypt will hand over control over two Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia.

The April 6 youth movement, the Muslims Brotherhood, the Revolutionary Socialists and a few more political groups had announced their support for and participation in the protests.

Protesters also announced they planned to continue the demonstrations on Apr 25, which coincides with Sinai National Liberation day.

Freedom for the Brave, an initiative that provides support for detainees, said that 26 people were arrested from a café called Ghazal in downtown. They were searched extensively, and some were released while others were taken to different police stations.  

Police forces were wearing plainclothes whilst arresting people, the initiative reported, relying on the accounts of those who were released.  

Lawyers Mokhtar Mounir and Malek Adly reported on social media that many of the young people who were arrested are now missing, with police stations denying that they are under their custody.

According to the lawyers, this is likely to mean that the arrested are now withheld by Homeland Security.

The security source told Aswat Masirya that “these campaigns take place regularly and are nationwide, in coordination with several security directorates.”

“They target furnished apartments, first-class hotels, and cafés. These campaigns involve Homeland Security officers,” along with police, tourism and passport administration, and the administration for public morality, he said.

Cheb Makhlouf, a cartoonist with the local al-Masry al-Youm newspaper, wrote a testimony of his arrest on his Facebook page: “I was arrested. It was a depressing experience but it wasn’t too harsh. I was arrested from a café, for no reason, with people I know and people that I don’t. They let me go before an hour had passed.”

“We all knew we would be taken, that it was only a matter of time,” he added. “We are too simple to be feared, we are just youth.”

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