Egyptian court orders release of street performers

AP News
Posted: Sep 07, 2016 11:28 AM

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Wednesday ordered the conditional release of four members of a satirical street performance group whose selfie-style video clips mocked President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, according to two defense lawyers.

Lawyers Mahmoud Othman and Ahmed Othman told The Associated Press that the release order did not mean that the case has been dropped, and said prosecutors could still appeal the release.

The lawyers said the judge has ordered their release on condition that the four report to local police stations daily.

The performers, whose group is called "Street Children," were arrested in May and faced several charges, including inciting terror attacks, street protests and attempting to overthrow the government.

Clips by the group released on social media networks shortly before their arrest were entitled "El-Sissi, my president, made things worse," and "Leave" — a chant that was popular during the 2011 uprising that forced autocrat Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Other clips mocked the president's habit of ending speeches with "Long live Egypt!" and his reference in an address earlier this year to advice by his late mother "never to covet what belongs to others."

Street Children is part of a street-based art, music and graffiti movement born out of the 2011 uprising and fueled by liberal youths opposed to the rule of either Islamists or the military. Authorities in recent months have sought to clamp down on the movement, closing a popular arts center in downtown Cairo and cancelling some street art festivals.

The arrest of members of Street Children took place amid a wider crackdown on dissent over the past three years. Thousands of people, mainly Islamists but also leading secular activists, have been jailed, and all unauthorized protests have been banned.