Egyptian security forces arrested the The hired novelist Ahdaf Soueif and three other women after holding a protest demanding the release of prisoners for fear of an outbreak of coronavirus in the country's overcrowded prisons.
Soueif, his sister Laila Soueif, activist Mona Seif and Rabab El-Mahdi, a professor of political science, held a small demonstration in downtown Cairo on Wednesday afternoon.
“We are in front of the cabinet, asking the state to take serious measures regarding the crown in prisons. As we know, Egypt's prisons are at any time clusters of disease, ”said Mona in a live video on Facebook, according to Ahdaf Soueif's son, Omar Robert Hamilton.
Three in the group are related to one of Egypt’s most important bloggers and activists, Alaa Abd El Fattah, who was arrested last September after rare small-scale protests that called for the ouster of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
The concerns of Abd El Fattah and his family have increased over conditions in Egyptian prisons, where human rights groups have repeatedly warned of overcrowding and poor hygiene.
El Fattah's sister Seif was on social media asking for the release of prisoners, and on Tuesday, Laila Soueif, her mother, wrote to Egypt's attorney general asking him to release prisoners.
"The only way to prevent detention centers from becoming centers for spreading the pandemic and endangering the entire population of the country is to release as many prisoners as possible," she wrote.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, prisons have been closed, raising concerns about internal conditions, Hamilton added.
“Prisons have been closed for two weeks. The families had no contact and are increasingly nervous, ”he said on Twitter. So far, Egypt has 196 confirmed cases of coronavirus and six deaths, but it is feared that the virus could have spread further.
Human Rights Watch also said this week that Egypt could “Replacement disaster” if organized conditional releases of chains “notorious for being overcrowded, dirty and unhygienic”. He appealed to Sisi to "put reason before punishment".
The four women face possible charges of illegal protest, illegal assembly and traffic obstruction, the independent, and were taken for questioning by prosecutors, reported the news site Mada Masr.