Egypt allows prisoners to order out restaurant food

Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:23am EDT
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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian prisoners are set to be allowed to order meals from any restaurant they choose after a trial run during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan was deemed a success, a senior security official said on Saturday.

The state-run Al Ahram newspaper reported that prison authorities have been placing orders with restaurants and then handing them to prisoners about to break their fast.

Muslims fast from dawn to dusk in Ramadan, which started this year on September 1. The security official told Reuters the permission to order food would continue beyond Ramadan.

He said the prisoners were paying for the food. Asked about the favorite meals prisoners have ordered, he said they included meat Kebab and pizza.

The official asked not to be named, citing department policy.

It is not uncommon for prisoners in Egypt to receive meals from their visiting families. Egyptian human rights activists say conditions inside jails in the most populous Arab country are bad, with unclean cells and low-quality food.

Human rights groups also say torture is systematic inside Egyptian jails and police stations. The government denies this and says it prosecutes any officer who tortures detainees.

(Writing by Alaa Shahine; reporting by Matthew Jones)