Egypt: children swept up in crackdown on anti-Sisi protests

More than 100 children are among thousands of people detained in Egypt in an effort to prevent further protests against the rule of Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi.

At least 3,120 people have been arrested since hundreds of people took to the streets on 20 September, according to the Cairo-based NGO the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. Amnesty International said at least 111 children were arrested in the crackdown, “some as young as 11, with several detained on their way home from school”.

Many were held by security services after they were stopped at checkpoints, where officials demanded to see their phones in order to check for “political” material. Local rights groups as well as the government’s own National Council for Human Rights condemned the practice as unconstitutional.

Detainees were added to a single charge sheet, accused of aiding a terrorist group, spreading false information, misuse of social media and participation in unauthorised protests. Amnesty International said this included at least 69 minors aged between 11 and 17. Should the case go to trial, it would be the largest criminal prosecution of protesters in Egyptian history.

Hundreds of people gathered in rare protests against Sisi’s leadership on 20 September, outraged by accusations that the country’s ruling military was squandering public funds on palaces and hotels in a country where 32.5% of people live below the poverty line.

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