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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Cairo, 26 July (AKI) - The Egyptian interior minister has ordered the release of some 300 detainees belonging to Islamist group Gamaa al-Islamiya, the independent daily al-Masri al-Yom reports. "A state security court has ruled not to validate the detention order for those involved, because there are not the grounds required for imprisonment," the paper explained, adding that "the court has decided to suspend their detention." According to local dailies, most detainees freed "had already served terms of between three and five years."

Another 14 detainees affiliated to the organisation have started a hunger strike in the jail of Damanhur, to protest against sanitary and health conditions in the penitentiary and asking to be released. The detainees are complaining about the decision of the court which haxs renewed their detention orders and denounced "the complete lack of hygiene which has caused illnesses and the deterioration of the health conditions of countless detainees."

Gaama al-Islamiya, a radical Islamist movement which was responsible for bloody attacks in Egypt in the 1970s but which in 1997 publicly renounced violence, has of late been seeking to project a new image.

The leaders of Gamaa al-Islamiyah last month set up an Internet site to allow a wider public to understand the beliefs and ideology on which the group is based.

"We felt the need to explain to young people the true Islam - the site proclaims - and to distance them from the violence endorsed by numerous Islamist groups in recent years."

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