Egyptians get warning: don’t satirise inflation

Published May 9, 2022
In March, the group posted a satirical video on TikTok. The band mimed instruments with household items and parodied a romantic song, substituting the lyrics to bemoan soaring food prices.—AFP
In March, the group posted a satirical video on TikTok. The band mimed instruments with household items and parodied a romantic song, substituting the lyrics to bemoan soaring food prices.—AFP

CAIRO: Egypt has released three social media users who were detained after posting a satirical song on TikTok about rampant inflation in the country, rights groups said on Sunday.

In March, the group posted a satirical video on TikTok. The band mimed instruments with household items and parodied a romantic song, substituting the lyrics to bemoan soaring food prices.

The three comedians were summoned by state security in Assiut, 400 kilometres south of Cairo, on March 31, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

The agency said they appeared before the Cairo prosecutor on April 18-19, “when they were accused of belonging to a terrorist organisation and spreading false news”.

Such allegations are routinely levelled against dissidents in Egypt.

Egypt’s annual inflation rate hit 12.1 percent in March, driven by high oil and food prices. Analysts fear prices could spike further due to the impact of the war in Ukraine on global wheat supply.

Egypt’s currency has also sagged since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, further fuelling inflation.

Rights groups estimate that some 60,000 political prisoners are being held in Egypt.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reactivated the dormant presidential pardon committee last month, and Egypt on April 24 released 41 political opponents from provisional detention. Three days later, officials announced that Sisi had pardoned 3,273 prisoners, including prominent journalist Hossam Moniss.

Last week, Reporters without Borders released its 2022 World Press Freedom Index, ranking Egypt 168 out of 180 countries, down two spots from last year’s score of 166.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2022

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