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Arabic press review: Detained officers stage prison riot in Egypt

Meanwhile, a famous YouTuber has been arrested in Egypt for joining the ‘Whistle' campaign, and 30,000 Syrian refugees have left Jordan and returned to their country
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi posing on 3 February 2015 with members of the Armed Forces Unit (AFP)

Officers stage protest inside Egyptian military prison

Detained Egyptian army officers have clashed with their guards in Cairo's military prison as they staged a hunger strike and demanded their release, according to news website Arabi21.

An Egyptian military source told the website that 26 detained officers started a hunger strike in protest against their “mistreatment”, and the denial of family visits, home-made food, blankets and winter clothes.

The officers demanded to be freed following the release of former Egyptian Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sami Anan, who was previously detained with them in the same prison. 

Anan was arrested in early 2018 after he announced he would run against president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who swept to a second-term victory in a March 2018 poll. The only candidate allowed to stand against Sisi said the president would be a better choice than himself.

At the time, the army accused Anan of announcing his intention to run in the election "without getting the approval of the armed forces or following the required procedures to end his service in the military".

According to a source who spoke to Arabi21, the commander of the military prison located in Camp Huckstep, Brigadier General Khaled Sultan, “brought special forces” to end the riot, as “26 officers of different ranks clashed with the prison administration staff”.

The source added that “there were injuries among the detained officers after the riot police stormed the cells”. 

The 26 officers in custody are held under Military Case No 3/2015, which has been under a media blackout by the Egyptian government. 

However, on 16 August 2015, BBC Arabic reported that multiple military verdicts were issued against 26 army officers of various ranks, following their conviction on charges of “planning a military coup, disclosing military secrets and joining the Muslim Brotherhood”, among other charges. 

YouTuber arrested in Egypt for joining the ‘Whistle’ campaign

Egyptian authorities arrested YouTuber and well-known activist Shadi Srour and referred him for investigation by the supreme state security prosecution, news website Arabic Post reports.

Srour asked for the prosecution’s permission to meet his father and bring his lawyer, according to the report.

Srour’s arrest comes within the framework of the al-Safafir (Whistle) campaign launched by opposition media figure Moataz Matar, who called on Egyptians to whistle at the same time as an expression of protest against the political and economic situation in Egypt.

The Egyptian YouTuber became known following controversial videos in which he announced his decision to leave Islam and his plan to kill himself, before refraining from doing so.

After months of announcing his intention to stop posting videos on social media, Srour sparked a new controversy with statements he posted on his Facebook page in February stating that he had been on the verge of killing himself but changed his mind and announced his return to Islam.

UN: 30,000 Syrian refugees returned from Jordan

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan has announced that 30,000 Syrian refugees have returned to their country voluntarily in 2019, according to a report by London-based newspaper al-Arabi al-Jadeed.

According to UNHCR data, the number of refugees registered in Jordan has now reached 744,000, including about 655,000 Syrians, 67,000 Iraqis, 15,000 Yemenis, 6,000 Sudanese and 2,500 refugees from 52 other countries.

"In 2019, the UNHCR in Jordan maintained a unified approach towards all refugees, as aid was provided to more than 40,000 refugee families of all nationalities every month, in order to meet their basic needs throughout the year, at a cost of $5.5m per month on average," the report said.

The total work permits issued to Syrian refugees in Jordan has currently reached about 165,000, covering 45 percent of the total refugee population of working age.

* Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.