Two years of relative internal peace combined with the coming of Ramadan have created an atmosphere in which the government has begun to release imprisoned members of Jama'ah al-Islamiyah, Egypt's Islamic opposition movement.
A-Sharq-al-Awsat daily reports in today's edition that the Egyptian Authorities have begun releasing prisoners from various districts who have been incarcerated for at least 15 years or who were held for interrogation purposes. The release began yesterday and the number of those freed is expected to reach roughly 1,200. This step marks the single largest prisoner release since the launch of wide-scale terrorist attacks in Egypt back in 1992.
While the government denies that the release means it is negotiating with the Islamists, it does indicate that the government feels comfortable that the Islamists pose a much lesser threat than they did a few years earlier. In 1997, Egypt's vital tourism industry was decimated following a sensational massacre of foreign tourists in Luxor by Islamists. The incident received world-wide attention.
© 1999 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)