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Security forces close downtown Cairo bookstore and detain 2 employees

Security forces raided Al-Balad bookstore in downtown Cairo on Sunday and detained two employees, citing a court order to shut-down the store and arrest its manager, according to lawyer Mohamed Zahran. He told Mada Masr that the exact nature of the court order is unknown.

The two bookstore employees were released later on Sunday.

The lawyer added that officers from the Interior Ministry’s Department for the Investigation of Artistic Products and Intellectual Property Rights raided the store in August, and expects the court order is related to the raid. However he asserted that the reason behind Sunday’s detentions and closure is still unknown.

Located on Mohamed Mahmoud street, close to Tahrir Square, Al-Balad  is owned by the president of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party Farid Zahran, who also owns the Al-Tariq (the way) website, which was also raided last October.

Police said at the time that the raid was a “preemptive procedure applied to all downtown buildings before the 11th of November,” ahead of protests called for by unknown groups, adding that the raids targeted buildings which saw a significant increase in the number of individuals visiting. In the 2016 raid police searched the website’s headquarters and questioned employees, before leaving the premises.

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