These Comedians Were Arrested Over Their Facebook Videos Mocking The Egyptian President
The young satirists, all between the ages of 19 and 21, were charged with inciting protests and insulting the country.
Egyptian police have arrested members of a satirical group for mocking the country's president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in video clips on Facebook.
Authorities searched the homes of all six members of the group on Sunday, and arrested the youngest member first. Despite court orders to release him, state prosecutors appealed the decision and kept him in detention. On Monday, police went back and arrested four other members from a home in Cairo. The group — who are all between the ages of 19 and 21 — have been accused of "inciting anti-government protests" and "insulting state institutions."
Awlad el-Shawarea, which means "Street Children," gained a huge following online after the 2011 uprising, and are known for their raw selfie-style videos on their Facebook page, where they discuss social and political issues.
"These are silly charges and they should be released," Mohamed Othman, the lawyer representing the group, told BuzzFeed News. "But as you know, we live in a country where you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow."
In their latest video uploaded to their Facebook page last week, the group spoke about President Sisi, mimicking his words from one of his speeches. They also said the newspapers should behave themselves and not give too much coverage to what Sisi says.
Another video posted last month, in which the group talked about Egypt's transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, has more than 2 million likes and has been shared by more than 50,000 people.
"My mom told me don't take anything that doesn't belong to you," they say in the video, imitating a statement made by Sisi during a speech he gave to explain why he handed over the islands.
Online, Egyptians have expressed anger and mocked authorities for arresting young men while the country faces bigger, more real problems.
The young satirists' detention comes amid a wave of other arrests of journalists and activists, which followed anti-government protests last month over President Sisi’s decision to hand over the two islands to Saudi Arabia.