Egypt renews detention of YouTuber over satire videos

Egypt renews detention of YouTuber Shady Abu Zaid over satire videos
2 min read
19 September, 2019
Shady Abu Zaid has been sentenced to a further 45 days, after spending over 500 days in pre-trial detention over spurious charges of spreading fake news.
Shady Abu Zaid rose to prominence for his satirical YouTube show [Facebook]
Egypt's state prosecution on Wednesday renewed the detention of a political satirist originally arrested over year over a prank video published on YouTube.

Shady Abu Zaid's detention was renewed for another 45 days on charges of joining an illegal group, publishing rumors and false statements against the Egyptian state, and insulting the ministry of the interior.

Abu Zaid, 26, has so far spent 500 days in pre-trial detention, since his arrest in May 2018.

Nearly two dozen police officers raided his home at dawn on 6 May, searching through his belongings and seizing mobile phones and computers before detaining him.

His sister, Roula Abu Zaid, has said his family is forbidden to visit him and they have been given no information about his detention.

In February, the state prosecution successfully appealed against Abu Zaid's release so he could attend his father’s funeral.

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A wave of arrests followed Egypt's presidential election in March 2018 as President Abdelfattah al-Sisi consolidated his iron-fisted rule.

Opponents and mild critics, including leftist activists and Islamists, have been detained on similar catch-all charges to those handed to Abu Zaid.

Abu Zaid rose to prominence after launching his own YouTube channel in 2015 on which he made popular videos satirising various aspects of Egyptian society, including religion, tradition and class, among others.

Abu Zaid had previously caused controversy in 2016 along with actor Ahmed Malek, after he published a video of the pair handing out balloons made of condoms to police officers, thanking them for protecting the people.

The pair were forced to issue an apology after the video went viral.

Amnesty International accused Egypt in July of "indefinitely" holding dissidents in prison, keeping them in detention despite court rulings ordering their release.

Najia Bounaim, Amnesty's North Africa campaigns director, called the practise "an alarming trend", which renders prisoners "already detained on spurious grounds trapped in the ‘revolving doors’ of Egypt’s arbitrary detention system".