Dozens of politicians, writers, and human rights activists were the victims of the June 5 attack in Egypt by unidentified attackers at an Iftar party organized by the Civil Democratic Movement and taking place during Ramadan.
According to Al-monitor, the attackers burst into the Iftar evening at a club in Cairo and turned over the dining tables, shouting: “Traitors! Spies! ”
The head of the Constitutional Party, Khaled Daud, who was present at the dinner, said on Facebook on the day of the incident: “Now any meeting of opposition or independent figures is prohibited,” alluding to the regime’s responsibility in planning the attack.
Mustafa Al Sayyed, a political science professor at Cairo University who also attended the event, noted that the attackers shouted slogans in support of Egyptian President Sisi. In a Facebook post, Sayed said: “The evening was originally a public meeting, some of the participants could take the opportunity to hold discussions on national dialogue to achieve political growth and democratization in Egypt.”
Parliamentarian Khayyam Al-Hariri commented on the June 5 incident: “Such attacks create a negative atmosphere at the beginning of a new presidential term and run counter to the president’s promises.” He asked in a Facebook article: “Why is security policy inconsistent with the rhetoric of the presidential establishment?”
On June 2, Sisi addressed the Egyptian parliament and promised to achieve real political development: “I assure you that tolerance and a common space are my top priority for peace and harmony in our society.”
According to a Human Rights Watch report released May 31, Egyptian security forces raided the homes of six Egyptian activists and arrested them in May.
Sarah Leah Witson, executive director of Human Rights Watch in the Middle East and North Africa, said in a report: “Al-Sisi forces are arresting well-known activists even when they are sleeping, just to interrogate. The idea is clear: any criticism or even a light satire can become the reason for sending a person to prison. ”
Egyptian police arrested video blogger Shadi Abu Zayed on May 8, political activist Amal Fathi on May 11, and political activist Shadi al-Ghazali Harb on May 15.
The prosecutor’s office investigated these arrested activists in the framework of case No. 621 of 2018 on charges of joining an illegal group and disseminating false information.
On May 18, police arrested lawyer Khayyam Mohameddin after a 15-day judicial investigation. He was accused of conspiring with a terrorist organization and inciting protests.
On May 24, the famous Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas was arrested. He was accused of conspiring with a terrorist organization, using the Internet to propagate terrorist ideas and encourage terrorist attacks, as well as spreading false information in order to deliberately violate security, public order and harm public interests. The prosecutor’s office announced his arrest pending further investigations.
The Egyptian security campaign was not limited to activists and journalists; she also affected a former presidential campaigner in Sisi in 2014. Political activist Hazem Abdel Azim was detained on May 28 for 15 days pending further investigation. He was accused of calling for a violation of the foundations of the constitution and the dissemination of false information.
On May 30, two days before Sisi took the constitutional oath of office for a second term in a row, the EU issued a statement expressing concern over the recent wave of arrests of politicians and human rights defenders in Egypt.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry rejected the EU statement and called the statement “inaccurate” and “not reflecting Egyptian reality.”
Gamal Aid, director of the Arab Human Rights Information Network (ANHRI), noted that given the Egyptian regime’s fear of criticism, it uses weapons of fear and arbitrary arrest among the opposition and those seeking democracy. He also warned of growing political tensions and greater anger caused by the ongoing arrest campaigns.
Journalist Abdullah al-Sennawi believes that the economic crisis facing the country is a priority for the Egyptians. Nevertheless, the recent wave of arrests only reinforces the negative in the political and economic arenas, when the country most needs political openness, he said.
“The restriction of public freedoms and oppression in the context of the economic crisis will only lead to unrest, which Egypt is already unable to cope with,” said al-Sennawi.
He said the behavior of the Egyptian security forces was contrary to the president’s promises of freedom of thought and expression. Sennawi added that the current political approach of the state is unclear and its decisions on the security system are arbitrary.
George Isaac, a member of the National Human Rights Council, said that Sisi announced on May 16 a pardon of 332 prisoners accused of criminal offenses, but only four were released.
Isaac hopes that prisoners of conscience and those who did not participate in acts of violence will be released. He was surprised by the latest wave of random arrests and is working on a petition to be sent to Sisi requesting the immediate release of those not convicted of violence.
Isaac believes “the behavior of the security forces in Egypt is too harsh and that continued oppression will drive Egyptian youth into complete despair.”
Alaa Abed, head of the Egyptian Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, said: “Political activists were arrested for participating in cases that threatened Egypt’s national security, such as the leak of false data abroad, unproven criticism of the government. This must be stopped in order to preserve the national security system. ”
In turn, the head of the Egyptian Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tarek Radwan, believes that relations between Egypt and European countries, as well as relations between Egypt and the United States, are governed by common interests and cannot be affected by concerns about citizens’ freedoms.
On May 24, the White House issued a statement expressing concern of the US administration over the arrests of peaceful activists in Egypt by the country’s authorities. The Egyptian government has not yet commented on this statement.
On July 24, 2017, Amnesty International called on the EU to take clear positions on the issue of human rights and freedoms in Egypt. Amnesty International also emphasized that strengthening relations between the EU and Egypt cannot be carried out at the expense of human rights.
Since Sisi was elected to a second term, authorities have arrested dozens of critics, who were then interrogated on charges of spreading false information and participating in the activities of banned groups or terrorist organizations.
Dawood said on his Facebook page: “We adhere to our right to a better Egypt, life, freedom and social justice. We are warning of current political sanctions. ”