Egyptian students spend Ramadan behind bars

Egyptian students spend Ramadan behind bars
A student activist group has launched a campaign to highlight the cases of imprisoned students who will be spending Ramadan in jail for "merely expressing their opinions".
2 min read
21 Jun, 2015
Anti-coup student protest in Cairo university [Belal Wagdy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]
Egyptian student activist group Strong Egyptian Students has launched an online campaign to draw attention to the plight of the large number of university and high school students who will be spending the Islamic holy month of Ramadan behind bars.

The group released a statement on its official Facebook page that said, “Ramadan is an extremely special month for Egyptians religiously and socially, whole families come together for iftar and wake up at night together for their late night meals.”

“But this Ramadan there are families that will being missing family members when they sit down at the dinner table, families that will not enjoy Ramadan as they should because a family members are in prison for merely expressing their opinions.”

Hundreds of Egyptian university students have been arrested or have disappeared in mysterious circumstances, in the harsh government crackdown against Islamist and secular opponents that began after the 2013 military coup.

21-year-old student and political activist Sanaa Seif was arrested in 2014 under Egypt’s anti-protest laws for taking part in a peaceful march asking for the release of political prisoners, including her brother Alaa who currenly serving a five years sentence for “organizing an unauthorized protest”.

Seif is one high-profile example but there are many more, student and photojournalist Israa al-Tawil went missing on June 1 while out with her friends, 16 days later she turned up in a Cairo prison facing charges of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood and “spreading false news about the country”.

During end-of-year exams this month, 96 high school students took their tests from prison, according to the Ministry of Education.

The strict dawn to dusk Ramadan fast will without a doubt make the lives of the many imprisoned Muslim students on hunger strike even more difficult as they now will now be abstaining from liquids throughout the day in the hot Egyptian summer.

As a part of the campaign the groups has launched the Arabic-language hashtag #TheirRamadanIsInPrison, so people could remember the young people spending the holy month in jail this year.

Head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Gamal Eid, tweeted an image of some well-known young Egyptians in prison.

Translation: Freedom to all prisoners of conscience in Egypt and the oppressive Arab world.

Another Twitter user posted an moving image of a family gathering for iftar but without their oldest male family members.