CAIRO: Student Mohamed Taha, arrested Sunday in front of Cairo University, was released after being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, according to Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Farouk, the head of investigation in the Giza security directorate.
Al-Masry Al-Youm initially reported that Taha was arrested for having a copy of George Orwell’s “1984” in his possession, but security forces denied the book was a reason for his arrest, saying he was arrested for suspicious behavior that included filming security forces surrounding the university.
Farouk told Mada Masr Sunday that the forces were not familiar with the book, and that the inventory of his belongings was a routine police procedure when he was arrested.
Lawyer and executive director of the Arab Center for Integrity and Transparency Shehata Mohamed told The Cairo Post that possessing any kind of book is not a crime under Egyptian law, even if the contents of the book were critical of the government or promoted religious extremism, as long as it was legally published.
“After July 3, 2013, the Ministry of Interior started a campaign of random arrests, because of terrorism fears, and exaggerated precautions procedures. So, yes this case happened before, but as long as those arrested do not have a previous criminal record and have not participated in any of the Muslim Brotherhood marches or demonstrations, security releases them shortly after investigations,” Shehata added.
“We have no restrictions on freedom of thought,” Farouk told The Cairo Post Monday, adding that Taha denied he was filming the forces in front of Cairo University during investigation, explaining he was taking personal photos.
Shehata told The Cairo Post that in cases similar to Taha’s, everything is related to the circumstances of arrest itself. “If the student had a previous record, the book may be used as evidence that proves his guilt; if not, those arrested are usually released after investigations.”