Egypt intensifies crackdown on dissidents, rights activists


A prominent Egyptian blogger and human rights defender was arrested today, making him the latest in a campaign that has taken several secular activists into custody this month, ABC News reports:

Egyptian security forces raided Wael Abbas’ Cairo apartment at dawn without showing a warrant or giving a reason, according to his lawyers. He was then blindfolded and taken in his pajamas to an undisclosed location, according to a statement by his authorized defense team at the Arab Network for Human Rights Information.

Amal Fathy

Egypt’s government has intensified a crackdown on political opponents, arresting a series of high-profile dissidents in raids on their homes in recent weeks as President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi prepares to begin a new term next month, Jared Malsin writes for the Wall Street Journal:

The roundup appeared to be one of the most far-reaching since the government clampdown that took place in 2013, after Mr. Sisi presided over the military’s removal of former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. The current crackdown reflects the government’s concern about political instability as a painful economic overhaul is rolled out and voices critical of the state are suppressed.

“The government is worried about any mobilizer, anyone who could mobilize people, and Facebook is their biggest nemesis,” said Mohamed Lotfy, the director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.

Mr. Lotfy’s wife, Amal Fathy,  was arrested during a raid on their home on the morning of May 11, shortly after she posted a video on Facebook in which she complained about what she described as sexual harassment toward her by a police officer. Mr. Lotfy believes his wife’s arrest was a sign of government harassment of his family over his own work as a human rights advocate, the Journal’s Malsin adds.

Sisi’s security forces may have wanted to send a message to Fathy’s husband to stop investigating the death of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni (right), Borzou Daraghi writes for the Daily Beast.

Prosecutors have ordered Fathy to remain in detention for 15 days on charges of “inciting against the state,  using social media to spread fake news and defaming Egypt,” Index on Censorship adds. The 33 year-old pro-democracy online activist was arrested alongside her husband Mohamed Lotfy, founder and executive director of the 2018 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award- winning Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, an Egyptian rights watchdog, in a pre-dawn raid on the couple’s home.

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