Social media campaign fails to get jailed minor released for parents’ funeral

A hashtag campaign on Monday night failed to obtain the release of jailed teenager Ahmed Qasem for his parents’ funeral.

The hashtag “Release Ahmed to bury his parents” had spread on social media, but the funeral for Qasem’s mother and father, who were both killed in a car accident while crossing a road on the way to visit the 17-year-old in prison, passed without his release. 

Afterward several people changed the call to request that Qasem be released to spend time with his family.

He is jailed on charges of plotting what’s known as the “Three Pyramids Hotel attack,” said to have taken place on Giza’s Haram Street in January.

No one was killed or injured in this incident, which according to privately owned Al-Watan lasted for approximately 10 minutes and consisted of around 15 people throwing molotov cocktails at the hotel and at a tourist bus parked in front of it.

The greatest damage caused appeared to be some broken glass, reported CNN Arabic, which quoted a security source as saying that the intended target was security forces, not tourists or hotel staff.

Local media reported that the attack occurred on January 7 and that the defendants were arrested soon afterward and referred to criminal prosecution on January 11.

Qasem is being held in a prison on the Cairo-Alexandria road, a busy highway that puts all visitors at risk, activist Mona Seif wrote on Facebook. 

“What is important is not that we ask for them to release Ahmed Qasem to attend the funeral, but for them to release him,” she added. “There are many young people inside of Egypt’s prisons. They will not release one of them for fear of changing the status quo in prisons.”

“Release the 17-year-old detainee who is in prison to see his mother and father for the last time, they died in front of the prison gates!” tweeted one hashtag user. Another tweeted, “Mercy before justice, please Sisi.”

This in not the first time a social media campaign has called on security forces to release a detainee to attend a funeral.

In November, social media users rallied around detained student Ayman Moussa when his father died using the hashtag “Let Ayman bury his father” in an attempt to get Moussa released for the funeral. Moussa missed the burial, but the Interior Ministry did respond to demands, stating that procedures were underway to allow Moussa to attend the funeral prayers.

In December, the ministry allowed a top aide to ousted President Mohamed Morsi, Refaa al-Tahatawy, to attend his mother’s funeral while he was serving a three year sentence for forgery.

In August 2014, jailed activist Alaa Abd El Fattah was also allowed to attend his father’s funeral. Abd El Fattah was sentenced to five years in prison in February last year for breaking the protest law.


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