Egyptian Journalists Join Hunger Strike Against Protest Law
AP | By MARIAM RIZK
CAIRO (AP) — A number of Egyptian journalists on Saturday joined dozens of political activists in a hunger strike against a restrictive protest law imposed last year, the head of the country’s journalists union said.
The ongoing hunger strike has been gaining momentum as scores of political detainees, activists and rights advocates join in, all protesting the contested law and demanding the release of those imprisoned under it.
The list includes key icons of the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Head of the journalists union, Diaa Rashwan, said he notified authorities that 10 journalists have started a hunger strike inside the syndicate’s headquarters in downtown Cairo.
Along with the secular-minded activists in detention, tens of thousands of people, mainly supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, were arrested after the military overthrew him last summer. The protest law, deemed by the government as necessary to bring stability to the country, bans demonstrations without a permit and toughens penalties on violators.
A Facebook page tracking the number of prisoners on hunger strike said 60 detainees have joined in the strike, as well as 83 others outside jails. A number of political parties have also expressed solidarity, with some of their members joining the strike.
The journalists going on strike said Saturday they believed “freedom of expression through protesting, writing and any other peaceful form is an entrenched right.” They said that writers in Egypt should be among the first fighting for it.
In June, authorities released an Al-Jazeera Arabic service journalist for health reasons after he had been on hunger strike for more than four months to protest his detention without charges.