Thursday, June 07, 2007

More on Election Arrests

The Egyptian government is arresting opponents prior to the shura elections, and it is arresting them in large numbers and with impunity. It calls for outrage.

Yesterday, I wrote about the attack on Muslim Brothers; today comes information about related arrests. The information comes from Mr. Saad Ibrahim, director of the well-known Ibn Khaldun Center, which has promoted human rights and democratic development in Egypt for years. He himself is a former prisoner of conscience. This time one of the arrestees involves a staff member at the center. The concerns are even greater because Saad has attempted to get information and contact the detainee without success for a week now.

Here's what Saad has to say:

"On Wednesday May 30th, Amr Tharwat an Ibn Khaldun employee, was arrested by Egyptian State Security at his families' residence in Matereya. Mr. Tharwat was the major organizer of the recent Shura Election monitoring as well as the Ibn Khaldun public opinion polling that was carried out earlier this year. In addition to Mr. Tharwat, the Egyptian authorities arrested four other people staying at the house of Dr. Ahmed Sobhy (Adellatif Mohamed Saied, Ahmed Dahmash, Abdelhamed Abdelrahman, Ahmed El Sayed, Amr Tharwat) and confiscated files, books, and computers that were found on the premises.

"Those arrested were originally taken to the Shubra El Khima police station, but in the seven days since their arrest nothing has been heard regarding there whereabouts or the nature of the charges filed against them. Several human rights organizations as well as the team of lawyers working on this case have made repeated requests to the Egyptian government regarding this issue and have received no response until now.

Some speculate that the group was arrested due to their involvement in the religious "Quranic" movement which stresses the importance of the Quran over the Sunna and Hadith. A website was recently constructed for the movement which has gained notoriety for criticizing fatwas issued by Al Azhar authorities. "

Please express your outrage to Ambassador Nabil Fahmy at the Egyptian embassy. The number is 202.895.5400. The e-mail address is Embassy@egyptembassy.net, but we've found in the past that when large numbers of protests are sent to the embassy, the e-mail stops working.

Also please contact the U.S. Secretary of State urging her to press the Egyptian government to stop the harassment of political opponents and democratic activists in the run-up to the shura elections. Secretary Rice can be reached by phone at 202-647-4000 e-mail here.

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