The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) strongly condemns the unprecedented escalation in the Egyptian government’s crackdown on civil society and activists. A series of arrests targeting activists, bloggers, journalists and human rights defenders on charges of belonging to terror groups and incitement against the state have been made over the past several weeks. The most recent case is that of blogger and rights activist Wael Abbas, who was apprehended on Wednesday and ordered by the State Security Prosecution to be detained for 15 days on Thursday. These arrests additionally included activist Amal Fathy, satirical blogger Shady Abu Zeid, activist Shady al-Ghazaly Harb, and labor lawyer Haytham Mohamadeen, among many others. This period follows the government’s targeting of media, with several journalists being arrested in the wake of the presidential election. Authorities have also targeted civil society actors with court cases; researcher and writer Ismail Iskanderani received a 10-year prison sentence in military court on Tuesday after spending over two years in pretrial detention.
“While Egypt’s crackdown on civil society steadily intensified during President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi’s first term, the developments of the past few weeks are an aberration even from this trend, and mark an unprecedented degree of repression,” said Dr. Nancy Okail, TIMEP Executive Director. “The current escalation is evidence of a much more targeted approach, indicating Sisi’s plans to consolidate power and completely muzzle dissent in his second term.”
TIMEP calls upon the Egyptian government to respect its international and domestic obligations to due process of law, and to immediately release those activists and members of civil society who have been detained in recent weeks. TIMEP additionally calls upon Egypt’s allies to hold the government accountable for these flagrant assaults on human rights and democracy in the context of bilateral relations and economic and security cooperation. The repression of civil society is not solely in violation of Egypt’s obligation to guarantee freedoms of expression and association but the absence of institutional channels of dissent and expression hold implications for Egypt’s stability and security.
The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of democratic transitions in the Middle East through analysis, advocacy, and action.