Egyptian satirists arrested for mocking president
Police have arrested four members of a satirical street group that mocked Egypt’s president and his supporters in video clips posted online. The move is part of an escalating crackdown on dissent that lays bare the government’s diminishing tolerance for criticism.
Mahmoud Othman, the street performers’ lawyer, said the four were arrested late on Monday in Cairo. He said they were likely to face charges of inciting protests and insulting state institutions. A fifth member of the group, Ezzedeen Khaled, 19, was detained on Saturday and faces the same charges.
The four arrested on Monday are Mohammed Adel, Mohammed Dessouki, Mohammed Yahya and Mohammed Gabr. The lawyer said their ages range between 19 and 25. The sixth member of the group, Mohammed Zein, has not been detained, Othman said.
The group, Awlad el-Shawarea (Street Children) has a large social media following. It shoots selfie-style clips on the streets that deal mostly with social and political issues.
A recent video was entitled “al-Sisi, my president, made things worse” while another clip mocked president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s hallmark speech endings of “Long live Egypt!” and his recent references to advice from his late mother “never to covet what belongs to others”.
The group has also recently devoted an entire clip to Egypt’s surrender of control over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, mocking the oil-rich kingdom as lacking in civilisational pedigree. It also mocked the Egyptian government for seeking to silence those who claim the islands are Egyptian.
News of the transfer of the islands broke during last month’s high-profile visit to Cairo by the Saudi monarch, King Salman, who announced a multibillion-dollar aid package to Egypt, raising speculation that the deal over the Tiran and Sanafir islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba was a sell-off.
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