Egypt's Sisi pardons 330 prisoners to mark Ramadhan

Wednesday May 16 2018

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced Wednesday he pardoned more than 330 young people at the start of the holy month of Ramadhan, some of whom local media said were detained while protesting.

"I ask the Interior minister that these young people be present tonight with their families for the suhur" meal that precedes Ramadhan's daily fast, President Sisi said at a youth conference broadcast on state television.

Ramadhan, in which the faithful abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset, begins Thursday in Egypt.

The military

President Sisi had promised in 2016 to release youths imprisoned in protests that followed a crackdown of the supporters of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsy, who was ousted by the military in July 2013 following mass demonstrations against him.

Some "332 prisoner youth" have benefited from the presidential pardon, state-run Akhbar al-Youm newspaper reported Wednesday.

The paper said that those pardoned had been arrested during protests.

President Sisi said he approved the pardons from a list proposed by the presidential committee to pardon young prisoners.

He has already pardoned other young detainees under the same criteria.

Protests in Egypt have become a rarity since the authorities issued a law in November 2013 banning all but police-approved gatherings.

The authorities had used the law to prevent anti-government marches in a crackdown that started with Morsy's supporters but later expanded to wider dissent.

Egypt's constitutional court ruled in December 2016 that part of the law violated the constitution which guaranteed freedom of association and the right to peaceful protest.