Egyptian activist Mahienour El-Masry to be released after sentence suspended

Ahram Online , Sunday 21 Sep 2014

Recent release of prominent activists doesn't mean protest law that jailed them will be amended - despite rumours last week of hopeful changes

 Mahienour El-Massry
Egyptian human rights lawyer and leftist activist Mahienour El-Massry (Photo: Courtesy of Free Mahienour El-Massry Facebook page)

A six-month jail sentence against prominent Egyptian activist Mahienour El-Masry was suspended on Sunday and she is expected to be released soon.

El-Masry, detained since May, was serving a six-month jail term after her two-year sentence from earlier this year was reduced by an Alexandria court in July.

She and eight other activists were convicted on charges of "illegal protesting" during the Khaled Said murder retrial in December 2013.

A law banning all non-sanctioned protests was passed by Egypt's interim government in November of the same year, imposing stiff jail terms and fines for violators.

El-Masry has already spent four of the six-month sentence in prison. The suspension of the sentence means that she won't pay a LE50,000 fine for violating the protest law.

She briefly joined a hunger strike campaign calling for the revoking of the protest law, which critics and rights groups have deemed too restrictive.

However, El-Masry cut her hunger strike short over fears of the health of others in her cell, who wanted to join the strike in solidarity but were elderly and faced health issues.

The ongoing hunger strike campaign, which started over two weeks ago, has gained recent momentum among political detainees, with over 80 persons joining in Egyptian jails.

Many others, including family members, journalists and political parties, have joined the hunger strike in solidarity.

Alaa Abdel-Fattah, another prominent activist also convicted under the protest law, was released last week on bail. He is set to be retried soon.

Twenty-six members of the Ultras White Knights, a hardcore fan group for Zamalek football club, were released on Saturday on bail pending a trial on charges of violating the protest law. The fan club members were also on a hunger strike leading up to the time of their release.

The release of political detainees prosecuted under the protest law doesn't mean the law will be amended – despite previous statements by members of Egypt's National Council for Human Rights, who said they had been asked to participate in amending the law.

A cabinet spokesman said last week that the government doesn't have intentions to amend the law in the near future.

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