Egypt releases 21 pro-Morsi female protesters after outcry


Egyptian women members of the Muslim Brotherhood hold roses as they stand in the defendants' cage dressed in prison issue white during their trial in at the court in the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria on December 7, 2013.



Egyptian authorities released 21 women and girls on Saturday after they were held for a month for participating in street protests.

The women, who demonstrated in support of the country's ousted president Mohamed Morsi, were convicted in November and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Seven other girls were ordered held until they turned 18.

The women were found guilty of using weapons, throwing rocks and "thuggery."

The sentences were met by international outcry, including from human rights groups, who deplored the unusually harsh punishments.

Human Rights Watch called the sentences "blatantly political." Amesty International said that they should not have been arrested in the first place and called for them to be released.

The women were convicted with little evidence and no testimony from eye witnesses.

They were released on Saturday with the women receiving one-year suspended sentences and the minors’ receiving three-month probation.

The demonstration took place on October 31 in Alexandria, by a group called the 7 A.M. movement - activists who support a Muslim Brotherhood government.

The arrests of the women coincided by a push by the miltary-backed interim government of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to imprison members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It also comes during a period when the government has cracked down on protests, which have paralyzed Cairo and helped weaken the economy.

The government blames the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters for the unrest.