Several days ago, Ramadan posted a photo on Facebook of himself wearing a yellow vest as a way of showing solidarity with the French yellow vest movement, according to Mada Masr, a local online newspaper.
Egyptian authorities, who believe the photo could incite similar protests, accused Ramadan of “joining a terrorist group and promoting its ideas, spreading false news, possessing pamphlets and yellow vests to call for protests against the government".
Ramadan's lawyer told Mada Masr that the possession of pamphlets and yellow vests was “fabricated” and that his residence had not even been searched.
"Support for Egyptian lawyer Mohamed Ramadan, arrested in Egypt -a France's friendly dictatorship- for wearing a yellow vest in solidarity with our demonstrations. He is being prosecuted for terrorism (!!)"
Ramadan's arrest came during a moment when Egyptian authorities are concerned about the next anniversary of the "Revolution of Dignity," a popular uprising which began on January 25, 2011 as a statement against police brutality during the mandate of President Hosni Mubarak.
In Egypt, industrial equipment dealers have been ordered not to sell yellow vests at retail. They are only allowed to take wholesale purchases from verified companies, the News Amed reported while explaining that permission to buy yellow vests has to be granted by the police.
“They made us sign statements that we won’t sell yellow vests,” an Egyptian trader said and added that “anyone who sells a single vest will put himself in big trouble.”
Yellow-vest sale restrictions will be in force at least until Jan. 25, reported the BBC, which stated that Egyptian government's media has stressed the violence of French protests to scare potential copycats.
Security sources confirmed that authorities had prevented industrial security suppliers from selling the yellow vests.
“It is a question of caution, rather than fear,” said one of the sources, when asked by Reuters if authorities were afraid of protests ahead of the anniversary.
Since the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi was ousted by military coup in 2013 and the former general and chief of the armed forces Abdel Fattah Sisi was elected a year after, Egypt had suffered one of the worst crackdowns in its modern history.
Thousands of opponents and critics, including the leadership and a great part of the brotherhood’s members, have been arrested since then.
Supporters of Sisi claim that the government’s actions are justified due to the political turmoil following the “arab spring” and other movements.
“Opposition political movements do not have a presence on the ground and current political parties are part of the regime,” said Mustafa, an activist speaking with Reuters who explained that a protest similar to France’s yellow vests would be impossible nowadays in Egypt.
“More importantly, the location of all activists is now known… They are either in prison or in their houses subject to police supervision.”
In April, Sisi was re-elected with 97 percent of the votes. His only opponent, a passionate Sisi supporter, got less than three percent of the votes after all serious opposition contenders halted their campaigns in January due to intimidation.
Sisi's main Western and regional allies have been mostly silent over alleged human rights abuses in Egypt. As the voting process was still going on, the U.S. embassy in Cairo said on Twitter it was "impressed by the enthusiasm and patriotism of Egyptian voters".