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Skyline International highlights how Attorney General and lawyers affiliated with the Egyptian regime are suppressing dissenting voices. 

Submitting reports against the Egyptian actor, Amr Waked, on February 23 was not the first of its kind in dealing with political opponents in Egypt.

Amr Waked was indicted by lawyer Ayman Mahfouz because of a post on Twitter which rejected the death penalty following the execution of nine youths in a trial that has been marked by many legal and humanitarian bodies as flawed and breached. 

According to the memo presented by the Egyptian lawyer, Amr Waked mocked the Egyptian judiciary system and Islam. This was a great misrepresentation of what he wrote on his own page which resulted in an unprecedented wave of insults and threats by supporters of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. 

In fact, Waked’s tweet is compatible with the Universal  Declaration of Human Rights in articles 8/9/10/11/12, which speaks about fair trials, non-violation, and torture of detainees or enforced disappearance, which happened exactly with those who were executed on February 22, 2019. Waked’s words also coincide with articles 14/15/16/17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted in 1976, all of which speak of the right to a fair trial and full legal representation.

The communication of the Attorney General became a weapon against activists who express their personal views on life in Egypt. It is a way of intimidating opponents and exposing them to enforced disappearances and arrests. The case of Amr Waked reminds us of a number of detainees arrested on technical grounds because of reports submitted to the Attorney General in the same way.  

One of the cases is the arrest of people connected to the critical song “O Balha” by Egyptian artist Rami Islaam published on YouTube. This song criticises the president Sisi on the judgment day after the end of his first presidential term in February 2018. 

The total of seven people was detained, including the poet Jalal al-Beheiri who composed the song, in addition to the producer Shadi Habash, and the director of Rami Issam’s social media accounts, Ahmed Shawki. 

Mustafa Jamal, one of the detainees, was unprecedently arrested only because he credited the Facebook page of Isaam with the blue mark.

In addition, an Egyptian citizen residing in Kuwait was arrested and deported because of listening to the song. 

Among the detainees in this case is Rami Sidqi, young musician who had a previous relationship with Issam, However, Rami denies any role in the song mentioned. He was arrested later in May 2018 after returning to Egypt.

Although Rami Sidqi confirmed that his relationship with Issam ended in 2014 and that there was no proof of a personal relationship, his detention continued without any legal grounds in serious violation of international law.

All the detainees were accused of insulting and mocking the Egyptian army and the president of the country. They were transferred to the military court in a violation of the law without considering that they are, in fact, civilians not entitled to be brought before the military courts. 

More than 10 months have passed since the arrest of the majority of the accused and they have not been brought before a competent court, neither have they been investigated. This is a clear violation of article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating that “everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person”. This is not simply an Enlightenment reflex, but a profound reaction to what went on in the concentration camps. Article 3 overlaps with Article 25 and should be read in conjunction with Article 5, which provides that no one shall be subject to “torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” and Article 9, which provides that no one shall be subject to “arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”.

Their detention is also a violation of articles 18, 19 and 20, which talk about “freedom of opinion, expression and thought without any harassment by any means”. The incitement and hate speech that opponents of the Egyptian regime face has become serious. It is a continuation of human rights violations in Egypt, which have been greatly exacerbated recently.

Criticizing the state policies and symbols has become a serious threat to social media activists and may expose them to accountability according to a system of communications by lawyers suspected of being in charge of the Egyptian regime to show that the arrests were made on the basis of a personal complaint, not by the state.

Although this argument has become apparent to all human rights institutions around the world, the Egyptian authorities do not care about the work of these organizations or document the cases that are being arrested for this reason. They blatantly violate all local and international laws that prevent the fabrication of charges against dissidents.

In 2015, a student at Alexandria University Omar Nouhan was arrested for designing a modified image of the president Sisi  simulating the famous cartoon character Mickey Mouse. He was sentenced to three years by a military court. 

The criticism of the Egyptian president, the army, or the courts faces a strong reaction by the Egyptian regime, where they are arrested and tried on charges of spreading false news and joining terrorist groups, attempting to disturb the public order or disrupt state institutions. It reflects the lack of any legal basis for their detention, in violation of article 19 of the International Covenant, which states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.