The women, aged 15 to 22 — 15 of whom are minors — were arrested by security forces as they attempted to form a human chain on the Corniche, and are being detained for 15 days pending investigations.
“7 am” is a youth movement launched late last month in protest against what members call the military coup that ousted former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3. The movement is peaceful and was launched in Alexandria, with plans to spread to the rest of Egypt’s governorates, according to the group’s Facebook page.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) issued a joint statement decrying the arrests. The statement quoted the protest movement’s spokesperson as saying that there had been minor altercations between the protesters and local residents Thursday morning, but that these conflicts were quickly contained.
Security forces then intervened and arrested the demonstrators, transferring them to the Alexandria Security Directorate. The general prosecution accused the women of belonging to the recently banned Muslim Brotherhood, illegal assembly, illegal possession of flyers, threatening violence and obstructing public transport.
Their lawyer’s appeal against their detention was refused.
EIPR and AFTE accused the security forces of employing the same repressive practices as they had under the fallen Mubarak regime.
This arrest occurred in the context of other ongoing violations committed by security forces against freedom of expression and peaceful protest, the statement said.
The right to peaceful protest must be guaranteed, and these oppressive practices must not be tolerated — especially against female protesters, who have long fought against their marginalization from politics, the rights groups asserted.