Egypt mocked over song for newly opened prison

Egypt mocked over song for newly opened prison
3 min read
01 November, 2021
The complex, which is one of the biggest in the world, was established over the period of 10 months and is ready to host 25 percent of the capacity of Egypt's prisons, according to the interior ministry.
President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi had earlier announced the opening of what he described as an 'American-style' prison complex [Getty]

CAIRO: At a time when rights groups have frequently reported cases of maltreatment and abuse in Egyptian prisons, the country's interior ministry has promoted the inauguration of the new Wadi El-Natrun prison complex in northern Egypt - complete with a song to accompany the launch.

The complex, which will be one of the biggest in the world, was established over 10 months and is ready to host 25 percent of the capacity of Egypt's prisons, according to the interior ministry.

Egypt President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi had earlier announced the opening of what he described as an "American-style" prison complex.

Egypt has been denounced by human rights groups for the state of its prisons and the detention of thousands of activists.

A realistic depiction? 

On Thursday, the interior ministry posted a video to its social media accounts featuring a song describing the life of inmates at the prison complex, drawing ridicule from social media users.

The song, entitled 'a new chance', is performed by two famous Egyptian singers and features actual inmates who consented to appear in it.

The footage portrays prison life unlike what is known to be the case in Egypt. It shows sports, economic, artistic, and religious activities at the detention centre, as well as courses for prisoners to learn new crafts and professions delivered by specialists.

The video further shows a well-equipped hospital unavailable for ordinary Egyptians outside the prison to be treated in.

Social media activists responded to the video with satire and sarcasm.

"The first picture [shows] a library at the new prison complex, [while] the second displays a classroom at a public school. In Egypt, you will see wonders," wrote one Twitter user in Arabic.

"A farce… they made a new song on the occasion of opening the biggest prison complex… subtitled for their masters, the sponsors of the Egyptians' wheat [the US]. This is not an achievement. It’s a scandal in a country where schools have no desks, hospitals have no beds and political detainees are eliminated at the filthiest prisons," said another.

Egypt's government has been accused by local and international rights groups of overseeing the country's worst crackdown on human rights in decades, with about 60,000 of its critics behind bars. Some have suffered medical negligence and were left to die slowly, while dozens others were executed.

In September, prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah's family members said they were worried about his safety after he had suggested to the judge presiding his latest pre-trial hearing that he could commit suicide unless his conditions at the notorious Tora Prison were to be improved and that he was to be transferred to another jail.

Abdel-Fattah has been locked up in solitary confinement and banned from leaving his cell or communicating with the outside world for over two years now.

Abdel-Fattah has been on trial before the state security court whose verdict cannot be appealed over charges of disseminating false news, being affiliated to a terrorist group, and misusing social media tools.

Prior to that, former politician and presidential candidate, Abdel-Moniem Aboul-Fotouh suffered from medical negligence while being held also in solitary confinement at Tora Prison. 

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