The Egyptian government pardoned over 3,000 prisoners and not one of them was a political prisoner or journalist.
Rabat – Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is under fire once again by human rights groups after his customary Eid al-Fitr pardoning of 3,157 prisoners highlighted his continuous no-mercy-attitude for political prisoners.
“On the eve of Eid al-Fitr holiday, we see over 3,000 pardons—not a single one of them is a political prisoner or journalist, rather they are common criminals,” Dalia Fahmy, a professor at Long Island University, told Al Jazeera.
Like other political leaders, Sisi has a history of granting clemency for prisoners throughout the year, particularly on important Islamic holidays such as Eid al-Fitr. Today was no exception, as the president released thousands of people from their confinements.
Sisi’s list of pardoned prisoners included Mohsen al-Sukkari, who received a 25-year sentence in 2010 for murdering Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim.
While Egypt was willing to release murderers and criminals in the spirit of Eid al-Fitr, activists, journalists, and other political prisoners remain detained, many of them without trials and subject to what rights groups consider deliberate human rights abuse.
Critics, including human rights organization Amnesty International, say journalism has been made a crime in Egypt over the past several years.
Since 2013, the government has tightened its grip on the media, ensuring control over the news narrative and social media by censoring information in favor of the regime. Forced disappearances, raids of news and media offices, and arbitrary arrests have been part of the government’s systematic display of power.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), over 60,000 people have been jailed for political reasons in Egypt under Sisi’s presidency. Many are deprived of hearings, family visits, and legal proceedings.
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Egyptian security forces have imprisoned at least 10 journalists.
On May 18, HRW published an article criticizing the Egyptian government for holding “hundreds, and most likely thousands, of people in pretrial detention without a pretense of judicial review,” calling it a “new low for the country’s justice system.” Days later, the New York-based NGO similarly called out Egypt for the unlawful torture and ill-treatment of children in prisons.