Egypt: Even during Eid, security rears ugly head

Egypt: Even during Eid, security rears ugly head

CAIRO: It was holiday time for Egyptians across the country, who used the days away from work to visit family and join in prayer with their relatives. Eid el-Adha is one of the rare occasions where Egypt’s streets are somewhat calm and removed from the hectic nature that usually means the country is alive and well. But, for a number of Egyptians, the Eid holiday was not something to celebrate, as Egyptian state security cracked down on individuals who stood out.

For one Egyptian girl, standing up for her brother didn’t turn out well. According to independent reports from the Sharqeya governorate in the Northern Delta region, the girl, whose name has not been released to media, was stopped by state security as they were making their way to a local stadium for prayers. Police demanded her brother remove a scarf he was wearing, arguing that it represented the Palestinians.

When the girl protested, saying her brother was cold and needed the scarf to remain warm, police arrested her and took her to a local police station. According to lawyers close to the case, she is still believed to be under custody and is expected to be brought before prosecutors following the Eid vacation.

Rights groups and the Muslim Brotherhood have accused the government of attempting to curtail freedom of speech and freedom of religion by forcing the young boy to remove his scarf.

Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud, the Brotherhood’s top defense attorney, said that this “barbaric” attack against the freedom of Egyptians is a sign that things in the country are not getting better. He called on rights groups to make it known that the government “cannot continue to employ these actions against its people, especially when they are simply going to pray with thousands of others.”

The arrest comes as the interior ministry denied barring family members from visiting prisons during the holiday, but the Muslim Brotherhood reported that at least 30 families were banned from seeing their relatives currently behind bars. They said that families in Suez attempted to get a court order allowing them to see their family members during the holiday, but the government, without hearing the defense argument, dismissed their request.

“Families of 33 Muslim Brotherhood detainees in Suez face harassment by state security forces” when they attempted to visit their relatives. Last week, the ministry issued a statement saying they would not bar families from visiting detained family in prison, but for these families, the holiday was spent alone.