Egyptians detained ahead of Cop27 in relation to calls for protests are still behind bars

The COP27 may have ended, but many of the Egyptians preemptively detained in connection with calls for protests during the conference remain behind bars.

Egyptian authorities arrested hundreds of people around the country leading up to and during the climate conference to try to clamp down on dissent, in many cases after arbitrarily stopping them in public and searching their phones.

Despite the feared protests not coming to pass, prosecutors are continuing to renew the detentions of many of those arrested, such as Bread and Freedom Party member Ziad Abu al-Fadl.

Separately, activist Sherif al-Rouby, lawyer Ahmed Nazir al-Helw, and journalists Hala Fahmy and Safaa al-Korbagy all saw their detentions renewed yesterday as well.

Egyptian activists expressed fears during the conference that a crackdown could follow once the global spotlight shifted away from Egypt.

This appears to be playing out online: After COP27 attendees complained about the blocking of news and human rights websites, authorities relaxed some restrictions, but some of those blocks are coming back.

WhatsApp calls, for instance, were allowed during the summit but have now reportedly been blocked again on Vodafone Egypt, though the platform is still working on other networks for now.

Online news platform Daraj has also now been blocked in Egypt. Daraj’s editorial staff speculated that the move could be retaliation for the site’s coverage of Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard’s comments on imprisoned activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and of three journalists’ hunger strike to press for Abdel Fattah’s release.

On 22 November, the Egyptian Parliament gave final approval to a law imposing prison sentences for anyone importing, manufacturing, or possessing any telecommunications equipment without authorities’ prior approval, according to Al-Ahram.

The national dialogue’s board of trustees on 23 November held its 13th meeting to discuss the agenda for the economic and social axes.