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Repression & Political Prisoners in Egypt—From Tahrir Square to Tora Prison

Since 2016, the tyrannical regime of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has built 30 new prisons to house the estimated 70,000+ political prisoners incarcerated since Sisi seized power in 2013. Egyptian civil society activists and journalists have been especially targeted. But the Sisi regime also routinely imprisons anyone whose speech, writing, or actions express the slightest criticism or deviation from its official line: be they doctors speaking out about deficiencies in Covid-19 treatment, lawyers denouncing corruption, Facebook posters or Tik-Tok influencers. Prisoners of conscience are disappeared, held in solitary confinement without trial, and denied access to food, health care, and family visits. Torture is widespread.

Despite this, Western countries continue to maintain warm relations with Egypt. French president Emmanuel Macron recently presented Sisi with his country’s highest public award, the Légion d’honneur. Trump famously referred to Sisi as his “favorite dictator,” but there is no sign that US-Egyptian relations will be any different under President Biden: just days after Egyptian security forces detained family members of human rights activist and dual US-Egyptian national Mohamed Soltan, the State Department announced it is considering a sale of missiles to Egypt worth $197 million.

Please join us for an urgent discussion about this situation and how to build solidarity with Egyptian activists facing this horrific repression.



Mohamed Soltan, human rights activist and former political prisoner in Egypt. Mohamed was imprisoned in the crackdown on pro-democracy activists following the July 3, 2013 coup d'état. He engaged in a 489-day hunger strike to protest his unjust imprisonment and was released in May 2015. He is a co-founder of the Freedom Initiative, a human rights organization dedicated to the release of political prisoners in the Middle East. @soltan

Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the organization Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN). Previously, she served as executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch (2004 – 2020), overseeing the work of the division in 19 countries. She has led dozens of advocacy and investigative missions throughout the region, focusing on issues of armed conflict, accountability, legal reform, migrant workers, and human rights. @sarahleah1

Hussein Baoumi, researcher on Egypt and Libya for Amnesty International. Prior to joining Amnesty International, he was a fellow with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, Programs Director at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms in Cairo, and an international fellow with Dejusticia, a Bogotá-based organization dedicated to social justice and human rights in Colombia and the Global South. @husseinmagdy16


This event is sponsored by Internationalism From Below, the Arab Studies InstituteDemocracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), and Haymarket Books