Members of ‘Street Children’ satirical group facing charges of religious contempt

Sarah El-Sheikh
3 Min Read

The Alexandria Misdemeanour Prosecution began investigations on Sunday into a report filed by lawyer Tarek Mahmoud accusing the satirical band “Street Children” of religious contempt.

In his report, the lawyer demanded prompt investigation into the band’s six members for allegedly insulting Islam in their videos.  He further demanded that they be referred to court and banned from travelling outside Egypt.

On 7 January, the band published their first online video that mocked the way religious figures host their talk shows which are broadcast over radio stations.

The members mainly poked fun of the hosts’ performance while presenting their shows.

A number of public and religious figures, including Khaled Al-Gendi and actors including Sherif Mounier, found the video’s content offensive towards Islam and said it distorted the religion.

Meanwhile, other users viewed it as freedom of speech that should be accepted in accordance with constitutional laws granting people their right to express their views through various platforms.

The lawyer supported his accusation with reference to the contempt of religion law that stipulates prison sentences to anyone who utilises Islam in an unacceptable way.

Last week, security forces arrested the five remaining members of the local band “Street Children” after releasing the youngest member of the band Ezz El-Din Khaled who was arrested at dawn on Sunday.

Khaled was the first member to be arrested from the band on charges of inciting protests and publishing inappropriate videos online. After spending a day in detention, Khaled was released.

The band’s coordinator, Mohamed Adel, said previously in a televised interview on private TV channel ONTV that a lawsuit citing contempt of religion was filed against them following the release of their video in January.

Their arrest stirred anger among social media users and opposing media figures, particularly young people who believe that sarcasm is not a crime.

The number of cases of “religious contempt” has increased dramatically in recent months against public figures including Islam El-Behairy authors, journalist, researchers, and intellectuals; many have expressed their anger and have called for this law to be repealed.

The head of Nazra for Feminist Studies Mozn Hassan commented, in a previous interview with Daily News Egypt, how can the state be calling for developing religion speech while its forces are arresting people for freedom of speech.

The band is famous for making satirical videos on Facebook about ongoing political events and leaders, namely President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

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