CAIRO (Middle East Eye) – The relatives of 10 Egyptian Nubians, who were handed heavy jail terms by a Saudi court on Monday for organizing an event marking the anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Zionist War, have appealed to the Egyptian government to mediate with Saudi authorities to pardon them.
The Riyadh Criminal Court, which tries people accused of having links with terrorist organizations or involvement in actions that threaten public order, handed the Egyptians jail sentences ranging between 10 and 18 years.
Prosecutors accused the men of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is designated as a terrorist group by Saudi Arabia, establishing an association without permission, and posting on social media.
“The verdicts passed against these people are far from fair,” Amr Faragallah Youssef, whose father is one of those sentenced, told Middle East Eye.
The men’s case dates back to July 2019 when they held a cultural event at the headquarters of a community association in Riyadh to mark the anniversary of the October 1973 victory over the Zionist regime, considered a seminal event in Egyptian history.
Egypt launched the war to liberate Sinai - a 60,000 square kilometer territory in the northeastern part of the country located near the Suez Canal - from the Zionist regime which had occupied it six years earlier.
Egyptians continue to mark the anniversary of the war, considering it a game-changing event in the military balance of the region.
Nubians, who originally hail from an area that covers the southernmost part of Egypt and the northern parts of Sudan, were instrumental in Egypt’s victory over the Zionist regime in the war and consider it one of their greatest achievements.
“I have intense anger at the extreme injustice to which our people have been subjected,” one of the relatives said.
Rights groups had previously campaigned for the men’s release, and denounced the proceedings against them as a “travesty” of justice.
They said the men were being prosecuted “for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression in trying to organize a community event.”
Activists said the men had been “denied regular family contact and only allowed access to government-appointed lawyers,” and that “at least two of them are elderly and in ill health.”
Three of the men are over 60 years old, the relative said.
Prominent human rights group Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, in a Twitter post, denounced Monday’s sentences as “harsh.”
Democracy for the Arab World Now, a U.S.-based advocacy organization, also said the rulings were “unfair.”
The report comes amid Saudi Arabia’s back-channel attempts to normalize diplomatic relations with the Zionist regime.