Egypt Watch

Raising the Palestinian flag: The latest cause for arrest in Egypt

Egyptian parliament member Talaat Khalil questioned the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Youth and Sports about the arrest of a young man who raised the Palestinian flag at the Cairo stadium during a match between Egypt and South Africa.

Activists and football fans posted a video on social networking sites showing Egyptian security men in civilian clothes arresting a fan after he raised the Palestinian flag in the Cairo stadium.

“Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental human freedoms in life and has been affirmed by all international and regional conventions around the world,” the Egyptian MP said.

“The situation has become difficult,” said Khalil. “Two members of the Egyptian security in civilian clothes arrested a fan who raised the Palestinian flag in the stands of Cairo stadium during the match on Tuesday evening.”

Egypt won 3-0 and qualified for the final of the African Nations Cup and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Khalil pointed out that the arrest “is provocative and unjustified, especially that the young man was accused only of raising the Palestinian flag, in celebration of the progress of his Egyptian brothers… thousands of fans cheered during the football match in solidarity with Palestinian rights.” 

“The masses cheered for Palestine, whose people are currently being violated, this is a matter that deserves praise,” he added.

Khalil said that there is no law that prevents this and asked, “is this a crime in the opinion of the Ministry of Interior?”

After the fan was arrested Egyptian fans chanted slogans calling for the security men to release him and let him continue watching the match, but without any response. During the same match two Egyptian players expressed their solidarity with Palestinian journalist Moath Amarneh.

Amarneh was shot in the left eye by Israeli forces while filming in the Gaza Strip, causing him to lose his left eye completely. He appeared in a number of photos with his hand on half of his blood-covered face.

Two players from the Egyptian national team placed their hands over their eyes in a sign of solidarity with Amarneh.

Public support for the Palestinian cause is a rare event in recent years in Egypt. The former Egyptian national team player, Mohamed Aboutrika, gained great popularity when he expressed his solidarity with the Palestinian people. 

The Egyptians consider solidarity with Palestinian people a necessary humanitarian issue but over the past years it has declined, with the Egyptian regime considering rapprochement with the Palestinians a strategy of the late president Mohamed Morsi.