News / Middle East

Egypt Crackdown Widens on Anniversary of Revolution

Emad Shahin (courtesy Emad Shahin)
Emad Shahin (courtesy Emad Shahin)
Cecily Hilleary
As Egyptians mark a somber three-year anniversary of the January 25th revolution that ousted the autocratic Hosni Mubarak, a wide-ranging crackdown by the military-backed government is gathering steam. With nearly all of the leaders of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood in jail, the dragnet is now increasingly targeting secularists and liberal critics of the interim government. 

In recent weeks, prominent secular activists like Ahmed Maher, the founder of the April 6th youth movement, have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Others like former parliamentarian Amr Hamzawy have been charged with “insulting the judiciary.”

The latest example: Emad Shahin, a scholar of political Islam who has taught at Harvard, Notre Dame and the American University of Cairo. Just a few days ago, Shahin was charged with espionage – a development that surprised many of his academic colleagues around the world who describe the Egyptian academic as a moderate non-political figure, albeit one who criticized the harsh crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. 

In a statement to students, family and friends, a copy of which was obtained by VOA, Shahin says he is shocked by the allegations, which he “categorically and emphatically” denies.

“The indictment listed far-fetched charges that my friends and associates would regard not merely as improbably, but as beyond preposterous,” Shahin wrote. 

He listed the litany of charges against him, which include espionage, leading an illegal organization, supporting and giving information to a banned organization, calling for the suspension of the constitution, preventing authorities from performing their duties, “harming national unity and social harmony” and working to change the government by force.

Rule by law more than rule of law

Michele Dunne is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and editor of the online journal, the Arab Reform BulletinMichele Dunne is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and editor of the online journal, the Arab Reform Bulletin
x
Michele Dunne is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and editor of the online journal, the Arab Reform Bulletin
Michele Dunne is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and editor of the online journal, the Arab Reform Bulletin
Michele Dunne is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace Middle East program, where she focuses on political and economic change in Arab countries, particularly Egypt. She says while Shahin has never been involved directly in politics, his recent public criticism of human rights abuses in Egypt made him a target of the authorities. 

“He was one of the few in Egypt who had the courage to speak up after the July military coup to criticize the human rights abuses that were taking place, and to do so to the international press, and it now seems that this case accusing him of involvement in terrorism has been launched simply to silence and discredit him,” she said.   

Dunne says, similar arrests are taking place more and more often. “We have seen this in Egypt before - it’s more rule by law than rule of law, using laws that exist in the judicial apparatus as a way to go after political opponents and silence and discredit them.”

She says the military and the “deep state,” the old security apparatus that existed under President Mubarak, saw now-ousted Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi’s growing unpopularity as “an opportunity to retake control.” 

“And as soon as they removed Morsi, there was a very strong campaign in the Egyptian media to demonize the Muslim Brotherhood - to expose all kinds of alleged terrorism plots, plans to open Egypt to foreign terrorist groups, and so forth - to convince Egyptians that this brutal crackdown was necessary,” said Dunne, adding this has happened in the past.

“We have seen this in Egypt before - it’s more rule by law than rule of law, using laws that exist in the judicial apparatus as a way to go after political opponents and silence and discredit them.”

Unfair criticism

Tawfik HamidTawfik Hamid
x
Tawfik Hamid
Tawfik Hamid
But others like Tawfik Hamid, Senior Fellow and Chair for the Study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, say criticism of the interim government is unfair given the situation Egypt finds itself in. 

 “What’s happening is that Egypt  is fighting for its very existence. People are very nervous and emotional because they are afraid of becoming another Iraq or another Afghanistan with the Taliban,” Hamid said. “You had clear-cut democratic elections there, but look at them now.  And Egyptians certainly don’t want to end up like Syria.”

That is why, says Hamid, the bulk of the population now backs the regime.

“At this stage, the military is seen by many as is the only organized body in the country that can carry the country at this stage,” he said.

Unresolved issues cloud future

Dunne points out that throughout the tumult of the past three years, Egypt still finds itself suffering from a bad economy, which, after all is said and done, is what the original protests were fighting.

“That hasn’t improved, and there is no prospect immediately of the military-backed government improving the economy,” Dunne said. That being the case — and in spite of tough measures against dissenters - she predicts Egypt’s revolution is far from over.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
January 25, 2014 8:08 AM
Because somebody is a teacher at Harvard, Notre Dame and the American University of Cairo does not mean he cannot do wrong or become a member and mouth piece of a terrorist organization. In Nigeria recently, the point man and recruit prodigy for boko haram is a lecturer in one of the universities here. The suicide bombers that razed down the WTO twin towers in New York were not mere idiots, they were highly educated and polished idiotic clerics. The motive behind does not respect position of honor, it is the madness that once infected they can do anything, and I see that the only solution to it is ensuring that religion stops.

As for Egyptian economy, there has been no room for improvement. In a state of chaos which the Muslim Brotherhood has engendered to make it look like it would have done better, coupled with sabotaging from Turkey, Qatar and Iran who pay for the daily disruption of business in Egypt, there is no way to register any improvement even if the government is constituted of super humans - unless the army, police and other security operatives in Egypt will go all out to quell the Muslim Brotherhood and ancillary trouble makers by force. Then the world will again cry out FOUL! Therefore let the administration take its time, take issues by turns; it will get there.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs