Rights groups have condemned what they call the rounding up, detaining and deporting of Uyghur students studying in Egypt to China. At least 200 Uyghurs, many of them religious students, have been detained since July 4, Radio Free Asia reported
. Many were picked up in restaurants or at airports as they tried to travel to safer countries, the report said. Egypt's state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) quoted unnamed officials earlier this week denying that Egyptian authorities were targeting Uyghur students. Rights and Uyghur exile groups condemned China and Egypt for violating the rights of the Uyghurs and breaking a U.N. treaty banning forced repatriation. "We strongly condemn the Chinese government for exporting its repression of the peaceful Uyghur people into other countries," Omer Kanat, director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, said in a statement. "The detained and deported Uyghurs were simply religious students studying at Al-Azhar University. They didn't commit any kind of crimes," said Kanat. "The only reason they were rounded up was because the Egyptian authorities followed through on the Chinese request to deport them to China. These Uyghur students were forced to sign a form stating they had joined extremist organizations by the Egyptian authorities and then were deported," he added. Human Rights Watch said
, at least 62 Uyghurs had been picked up since July 3, and were at risk of arbitrary detention and torture in China. "The Egyptian authorities should halt this outrageous round-up of Uyghurs," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. The Daily News Egypt
website quoted the Egyptian Commission of Rights and Freedoms saying on July 9 that 12 Uyghur students were sent back to China on July 6, while at least 80 were arrested in Cairo and 20 in Alexandria and Hurghada.