Posted by Rafiq A. Tschannen
Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, has pardoned all political prisoners arrested since the start of last year’s popular revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
On Monday, a decree, published on the president’s official Facebook page, announced the amnesty for “deeds committed with the aim of supporting the revolution and bringing about its objectives in the period January 25, 2011 to June 30, 2012, with the exception of crimes of first-degree murder.”
The Egyptians launched the revolution against the pro-Israeli regime in January 2011, which eventually brought an end to the 30-year dictatorship of Mubarak in February 2011.
According to the decree, the amnesty covers prisoners who already have been convicted and those who are still under investigation or are facing trial.
However, the decree did not provide a specific number of the people who have been pardoned by the president.
Human rights groups have said that thousands of people ended up in military courts established by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power in February 2011 after the revolution.
According to the Egyptian campaign group No to Military Trials for Civilians, at least 12,000 civilians have been tried before military courts and more than 5,000 political prisoners are still languishing in the country’s jails.
Many of the political prisoners were arrested during the 18 months military rule.
On August 31, more than 5,000 protesters held a demonstration in Cairo to demand the implementation of the goals of the revolution.
They called on the country’s authorities to release prisoners arrested during the revolution.
The demonstrators also urged Morsi to establish a minimum wage for the country.
Many activists also chanted slogans against Morsi, accusing him of acting too slowly to meet their demands. It was the first demonstration of its kind since Morsi took office in June.
Morsi, who quit the Muslim Brotherhood to become the president, said on Saturday he had fallen short on his election promises he pledged to fulfill in his first 100 days in office.