Egypt hands down life sentences over 2019 protests

Among those sentenced in absentia include government critic Mohamed Ali, a businessman exiled in Spain. Unauthorized protests are a rare occurrence under President Abdel-Fattah

el-Sissi. An Egyptian military court sentenced 38 people to life in prison on Sunday over protests in 2019. Twenty-three of those who received life sentences were

tried in absentia. They were charged with inciting violence against security forces and state institutions during anti-government protests in September 2019 in the port

city of Suez — a rare show of dissent since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took power in 2014. The court also sentenced 44 others people, including children, to jail

terms ranging from five to 15 years over the same charges Prominent businessman sentenced Among those sentenced to life in prison was Spain-based Egyptian businessman

Mohamed Ali. Ali, a construction contractor and fledgling actor, burst onto Egypt's political scene in 2019 when he posted videos to social media accusing el-Sissi and the

military elite of corruption. The videos, posted from Spain, went viral and sparked a wave of small scale protests in several cities across Egypt.

Egyptian authorities arrested some 4,000 people after the protests, including well-known academics, activists and lawyers. Rights groups estimate Egypt now holds more than

65,000 political prisoners. In 2013, after el-Sissi was involved in a coup to oust President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt passed a law that effectively banned all protests except

those authorized by police.