The highest appeals court in the Egyptian Court of Cassation confirmed Alaa Abdel Fatah’s sentence from 2013 for breaking a law that bans protests and “endangering the public interest.” Abdel Fatah is an Egyptian activist and blogger who became popular with the public during the 2011 Arab Spring. With 18 months still remaining in his current sentence, Abdel Fatah will also receive a verdict for reportedly “insulting the judiciary” in December along with 23 other defendants, a charge that faces four years in prison.
The blogger was extremely active in protests and uprisings during the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2013 and the 17-month military reign that followed. His arrest originates from his activism during protests in November 2013 by the group No Military Trials for Civilians, in reaction to a new law banning any gatherings with over 10 people without approval by the interior ministry. He was arrested along with two other journalists and their verdicts caused a public outrage.
Since 2013, the Court of Cassation and the rest of the Egyptian government has been repeatedly criticized for their human rights abuses. According to Human Rights Watch, 60,000 people have been charged or arrested by the Egyptian government, with 15,000 civilians being sent to military courts since 2013. Mohktar Mounir, a human rights lawyer, says that the Court of Cassation “is destroying the altar of justice and turning it into an arena for political revenge against opponents of the regime.”
Amnesty International, in a statement on their website on September 28, demanded that all charges be dropped against Alaa Abdel Fatah. Amnesty claims that the five-year probationary period, which Abdel Fatah would receive if found guilty, would be “equivalent to a major loss in liberty.” The organization has also conducted research and identified a plethora of unethical flaws in the country’s judicial proceedings. Some examples include the Egyptian NSA’s subjection of hundreds of detainees to forced disappearance and mass unfair trials in civilian and military courts.
Social media platforms have played a large role in the opposition to unfair arrests and sentencing by the Egyptian authorities. Abdel Fatah’s aunt, novelist Ahdaf Souief, is especially active in voicing her objections to the Egyptian regime on Twitter. On November 8th, she tweeted that President Sisi is “afraid of anything that reminds him that there was January 25th and young people following a dream of freedom, justice, and dignity…”, referring to the Egyptian Revolution in 2011.
The Egyptian authorities have had no response to the public outrage or international condemnation, and show no indication of pardoning Alaa Abdel Fatah.
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