Egypt's security forces have reportedly arrested the Man Booker-shortlisted novelist Ahdaf Soueif and three other women after they took part in a protest demanding the release of prisoners over fears of a coronavirus outbreak in the country’s overcrowded jails.
According to the reports, Soueif, her sister Laila Soueif, activist Mona Seif and political science professor Rabab El-Mahdi held a small scale protest in central Cairo on the afternoon of March 18. Mona reportedly said in a Facebook live video that they were in front of the cabinet and demanded the state to take precautionary measures regarding coronavirus in prisons, adding that Egypt's prisons are clusters for diseases.
Authorities must end over-crowding in prisons & detention centres to limit potential spread of @Covid. Laila Soueif letter to Prosecutor-General: decision is your responsibility & you will be held accountablehttps://t.co/Zd1XkmFjrn#سجون_مصر #كورونا_مصر #فيه_وباء_خرجوا_السجناء— Ahdaf Soueif (@asoueif) March 17, 2020
According to the international media reports, there have been increasing concerns among the supporters of jailed software developer Abd El Fattah about the conditions of Egyptian jails where human rights watchdogs have frequently warned about overcrowding and lack of hygiene.
As per the reports, the prisons have been shuttered for over two weeks now and the families have had no contact at all with the prisoners and they are increasingly nervous.
Mona Seif wrote on Twitter, "Mama I sent a letter to the Attorney General regarding the measures he needs to take to reduce the number of detainees in prisons to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Such a decision is your responsibility, which you will be asked about if you fail to bear it. God forbid, the disaster happened."
Meanwhile, Egypt's presidential spokesperson, Bassam Rady has said on his official Facebook page that the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has called for $6.7 billion funds in order to finance a state plan. However, the source of this fund has not been mentioned by Rady, while also announced that schools and universities will be suspended for two weeks starting from March 15.
(Pic Credit: AP)