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Not funny: Egyptian satirist arrested for 'insulting the state'

The band's satirical videos usually mock the supporters of the regime [Facebook]

Date of publication: 8 May, 2016

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A member of an Egyptian satirical band was arrested and charged with 'inciting protests' and 'insulting state institutions' after posting online videos seemingly making fun of regime supporters.

A member of an Egyptian performance band - whose online videos are allegedly critical of the regime - was arrested on Saturday, local media reported.

"Ezz al-Din was arrested at his home and taken to the Heliopolis prosecution office," the six-member band, Atfal Shawarea ["Street Children"], announced on its Facebook page.

The arrested satirist - who appears to be the youngest of the band's members - is now facing charges of "inciting protests" and "uploading videos insulting state institutions", the band said.

Prosecutors have ordered his detention for four days pending investigation.

The band's satirical videos, which are shot in different streets across Egypt, usually mock supporters of the regime.

Some of their videos also contain anti-government slogans usually used in protests, such as "the interior ministry [are] thugs" and "the revolution continues".

Their Facebook page currently has over 220,000 likes.

Ezz al-Din's arrest was the latest part of a growing crackdown on freedom of speech, particularly regarding criticism of the regime.

The arrest of satirists, pranksters and cartoonists has shown that the Egyptian state cannot handle a joke.

In February, an Egyptian court sentenced three Coptic Christian teenagers to five years in jail for "contempt of Islam" for making a video the regime alleges "mocked" Muslim prayers.

In the video, the teenagers were performing scenes imitating slaughter carried out by terrorist groups.

The video was filmed on a mobile phone in January 2015, when the three teenagers were aged between 15 and 17.

Ezz al-Din's arrest was the latest part of a growing crackdown on freedom of speech, particularly regarding criticism of the regime.

In January, popular Egyptian cartoonist Islam Gawish was arrested at his office for allegedly moderating a Facebook page and news website without a permit, as well as "insulting the regime".

His cartoons have satirised government figures, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He was released a day later with no charges.

In December 2015, a 22 year-old Egyptian Facebook user was sentenced to three years in prison after posting a photoshopped photo of Sisi with Mickey Mouse ears.

Amr Nohan - who was just five days away from finishing his compulsory military service - was charged with "attempting to overthrow the regime" in a military trial.

Ironically, Nohan's imprisonment only made the photo go viral on social media, and triggering condemnations in local and international media. Solidarity campaigns were also set up to support the detainee.

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