Egyptian activists are using social media to demand the release of five detained members of a satirical street performance group, Awlad el-Shawarea, whose video clips mocked the president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
The activists posted pictures on Facebook of themselves holding mobile phones in front of their faces with the caption: “Does a mobile phone camera rattle you?” The performers face several charges, including inciting terror attacks and street protests, attempting to overthrow the government and insulting state institutions, according to their lawyer Mahmoud Othman. Othman told Associated Press that the five were being held at a police station in the affluent Cairo suburb of Heliopolis.
The five are Ezzedeen Khaled, Muhammad Adel, Muhammad Dessouki, Muhammad Yahya and Muhammad Gabr. Othman said their ages ranged between 19 and 25.
Awlad el-Shawarea is part of a street-based art, music and graffiti movement born out of Egypt’s 2011 uprising and fuelled by liberal youths opposed to both the rule of Islamists and the military. Authorities in recent months have sought to clamp down on the movement, closing a popular arts centre in downtown Cairo and cancelling some street art festivals.
The move against Awlad el-Shawarea underlined the government’s diminishing tolerance for dissent and signalled that its next target could be social media networks, one of the last remaining platforms for young, pro-democracy activists and artists to air their views and work. The Egyptian actor Amr Waked, (right), who played the rich Arab chieftain in the widely acclaimed 2012 movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, also took part in the campaign, as well as Yousry Nasrallah, one of Egypt’s most respected film directors, prominent human rights advocate Ghada Shahbander and novelist and rights campaigner Ahdaf Soueif.
This edited article originally appeared in The Guardian