The Egyptian government has reason to be nervous. After cracking down on civil liberties, free speech, free exercise, and the free press, the government has watched with growing alarm over the protests engulfing France by thousands of yellow vested citizens. So Egypt is rethinking its denial of basic liberties, right? No, the government is preventing the sale of yellow vests and prosecutors are seeking jail time for a lawyer who was merely pictured in yellow vest.
Egyptian authorities are particularly worried given next month’s anniversary of the 2011 popular uprising that got rid of Hosni Mubarak. So they have told industrial safety equipment dealers not to sell yellow vests to walk-in buyers and to restrict business to wholesale sales to verified companies.
Protests are also banned under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
In the meantime, an Egyptian prosecutor has ordered the jailing of a lawyer for 15 days after the publication of a picture of him wearing a yellow vest. Lawyer Mohamed Ramadan is now being held for simply wearing a yellow vest as if banning the clothing item will remove the underlying cause for unrest.
The ridiculous has become the expected under el-Sissi. Egypt has seen a dramatic rollback on civil liberties under al-Sissi with increasing pettiness and arbitrariness. A teenager was jailed for cartoons of Muhammad and a leading businessman was attacked for a cartoon of Micky Mouse with a beard. Then there was the three-year sentence given Amr Nohan, a 22-year-old law graduate for posting a Facebook image of el-Sisi with Mickey Mouse-style cartoon ears. A leading cartoonist Islam Gawish, 26, was arrested in Egypt by the hyper sensitive al-Sisi government.
Now it is yellow vests.