CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi announced Wednesday he pardoned more than 330 young people at the start of the holy month of Ramadan, 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 suhoor meal that precedes Ramadan’s daily fast, Al Sissi said at a youth conference broadcast on state television.
Ramadan, in which the faithful abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset, began Thursday in Egypt.
Al Sissi had promised in 2016 to release youths imprisoned in protests that followed a crackdown of the supporters of former Islamist president Mohammad Mursi, 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.
Al Sissi 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 Mursi’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.