The Egyptian regime wages war on kites

In an unprecedented development, the Egyptian regime suddenly appeared to have started fighting a new enemy and began launching intensive security campaigns to prevent it.

On Friday, authorities in the coastal governorate of Alexandria (north of Egypt) confiscated 99 kites, after a decision to ban their use on the city’s promenade “to preserve the safety of citizens.” Egyptian activists released photos that showed the Egyptian security forces arresting a number of young people, some of them under 16-years-old, because they were playing with kites.

These security campaigns came days after the demands of the Egyptian Member of Parliament Khaled Abu Talib to the Egyptian government to criminalise the use of kites. Abu Talib claimed that the kites violate national security if small cameras are attached to them. The parliamentarian said he had received information that a kite shipment from France was equipped with photocopiers, which undermined national security. He pointed out that the use of kites in photography exposes national and possibly military or police institutions to danger as it is forbidden to photograph some of these institutions, noting that technological developments have brought great risks to the simplest things. Although many political activists considered these statements funny, a few days later kites were banned.

Akhbar al-Youm daily published on its website that “the security forces in Alexandria Governorate have carried out a massive campaign on the Corniche to prevent the use of kites, because of the risks they pose to the safety of citizens.” “The campaign resulted in the reservation of 99 kites, in implementation of the governor’s decision, while fines were imposed on five of the owners.”

According to local sites in Egypt, the seized kites are distributed in Alexandria among a number of neighbourhoods: “16 kites in the first Montazah neighbourhood, 26 in the second Montazah neighbourhood, 11 in the eastern neighbourhood, five in al-Ajami, seven in Gomrok, 12 in the middle, and 22 in the administration of tourism and resorts.”

The official page of the Alexandria Governorate on Facebook, last Thursday, posted a decision to “ban the use of kites on the Corniche road; in order to preserve the safety of citizens after a number of incidents occurred.” The decision stated, “A fine of not less than EGP 300 (about $19 dollars) and not more than EGP 1,000 ($62.5) will be imposed on the offender, or on his natural guardian if he does not exceed 18 years.”

Since Egypt imposed a curfew to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, children and young people in different governorates have resorted to traditional entertainment, including games such as kites, to break the boredom. Kites have filled the sky since March, with new shapes, drawings, and colours, and children and young adults have fun with them from rooftops, but this sometimes exposes them to the risk of falling, according to Egyptian authorities.

Al-Ahram daily website published yesterday that “the security services concerned in Cairo directed campaigns to seize the manufacturers, holders, and merchants of kites, as they represent a danger to the lives of children.” The authorities’ efforts of those campaigns resulted in the seizure of 369 kites.

Since mid-June, the government has gradually reopened the country in preparation for a return to normality while maintaining preventive measures. Egypt has recorded, according to statistics of the Ministry of Health, 82,070 infections, including 3,858 deaths, whilst 24,419 people have recovered.