More members of online Atfal al-Shawarea band arrested

Following the arrest of their youngest member, Ezz Eddin Khaled, all five other members of the online satirical troupe Atfal al-Shawarea (Street Children) were arrested Monday evening.

According to their lawyer Mahmoud Othman from the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression, the other members of the group — Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Yehia, Mohamed Adel and Mohamed Gabr — were arrested from their friend’s home in the district of Sayeda Zeinab in the southeast of Cairo around 9 pm on Monday.

They are set to be transferred to the Masr al-Gedida Police Station on Tuesday morning, the police station that issued the warrant for their arrest. The five young men face the same accusations as Khaled, including instigating protests and using online platforms to insult state institutions.

An initial celebration had taken place earlier on Monday on social media when news spread that Khaled, who has arrested from his home on Saturday for his videos with the troupe, was released from police custody.

But after a release was ordered for the 19-year-old on LE10,000 bail by the Hadayek al-Kobba Misdemeanour Court, the Masr al-Gedida prosecution appealed the decision. Khaled was not released on Monday, and his hearing was set for Tuesday.

According to Othman, the release was set due to lack of evidence, in addition to proof of his academic excellence in theater and art submitted by his professors from the Helwan University art program where he studies.

Othman also submitted televised interviews with and other media coverage of Atfal al-Shawarea as proof of their artistic value.

The young six-member Atfal al-Shawarea troupe has regularly released short videos in recent months, building up a following of almost 300,000 on their Facebook page.

Standing on Cairo’s streets and filming in selfie format, the all-male troupe use their phones to make popular videos with creative social, cultural and political commentary, often in the form of singing a cappella.

Their last video, which was released on May 2 and gathered almost 1 million Facebook views, criticized the recent crackdown on the Journalists Syndicate and the protests against transfer of two Red Sea islands off the coast of Egypt to Saudi sovereignty.

The video uses classical Arabic in the tone of dubbed foreign cartoons, and ends with the troupe declaring that the revolution continues and saying “Leave!” — the chant used in protests against former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi.

Khaled’s arrest, which comes amid an ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression, triggered an outpour of support on social media.

source: Mada Masr

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