Egypt's Sisi orders release of 165 youth activists ahead of Ramzan

  • IANS, Cairo
  • Updated: Jun 18, 2015 04:27 IST

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 by Xinhua News Agency said on Wednesday.

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

Sisi told the interior ministry that the released youths should spend the first day of Ramzan with their family members at their homes, the official Chinese media agency said, citing its Egyptian counterpart, Mena.

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

The issue started with the 2013 approval of the controversial anti-protest law that allowed the state to imprison hundreds of youth activists who took part in mass protests against former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi.

Wednesday's list of released young people excluded 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 Islamic 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 servicemen, 550 civilians, and 1,250 Brotherhood members and supporters.

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