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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Egypt extends detention of Ola Al-Qaradawi amid calls for release


The daughter of the prominent Muslim cleric and her husband were detained in 2017 over claims that they were associated with a “terrorist” group.

An Egyptian court has reportedly extended the detention period of Qatari citizen Ola Al Qaradawi for 45 days, according to reports.

Ola is the daughter of renowned Muslim cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, one of the world’s most renowned and respected Muslim scholars who resides in Qatar.

“The Third Circuit on Terrorism decided…to renew Ola Al-Qaradawi’s detention for a period of 45 days pending investigations into her accusation of joining and participating in financing a terrorist group founded in violation of the provisions of the law,” reported the CNN, citing Egypt’s official state television.

The decision was announced inside the deliberation room in the presence of a representative from the Qatari embassy, the report added.

“The investigations conducted by the Public Prosecution Office, based on the national security investigation report, revealed that the accused carried out a hostile scheme prepared by the leaders of the terrorist Brotherhood from abroad,” it said, referring to the Muslim organisation which is outlawed by Egypt.

The renewal is a tactic often used by the Egyptian State Security and is typically repeated every 15-to-45 days.

Al-Qaradawi, 55, and her husband Hosam Khalaf, 58, were first arrested on 30 June 2017 for their alleged involvement with “terrorist” groups.

No news was mentioned about her husband, who is also believed to be held in solitary confinement since the couple’s arrest four years ago.

In July 2019, a judge ordered she be released on probation as she had already spent two years in pretrial detention without charge, which is the maximum period under Egyptian law for the nature of such custody.

However, she was later re-arrested on 4 July for her membership and support of an alleged “terrorist” group and was accused of “using her relationships in prison” even though she had been in solitary confinement, Human Rights Watch [HRW] noted.

According to HRW, Khalaf has remained in jail without being charged.

According to a Twitter account created to raise awareness on the arbitrary detention of the couple, they were both denied visitors and legal representation throughout their detainment.

Their arrest came during crackdown on dissidents by the Abdel Fattah El-Sisi regime in 2017.

“Egypt has imprisoned the couple without trial since June 2017 for no apparent reason other than their relation to Yusuf Al-Qaradawi,” read an April statement by the Twitter account.

Ola’s father Sheikh Yousuf was also sentenced to life in prison in absentia following the country’s 2013 military coup, which sought to overthrow Egypt’s first democratically elected president and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi.

The arrest of Ola and her husband Khalaf has been condemned by several rights groups, with the UN previously urging Egypt to free the couple.

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