Activist for Egypt’s Coptic Christian Minority Faces a Myriad of Charges
5/23/2016 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern): International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Mina Thabet, a well-known human rights activist in Egypt, was arrested suddenly in his home in Cairo at 3:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 19, 2016. This comes as the latest in a wave of arrests by the government of rights activists and dissidents.
Thabet, the Director of the Minority and Religious Groups Department of Egyptian Commission for Religious Freedom (ECRF), is a well-known advocate of the minority Christian community in Egypt. He has been arrested as part of an intensified crackdown on NGOs and human rights defenders in Egypt and is being held on charges accusing him of belonging to a terrorist group that incites violence and illegal public assembly.
According to Thabet’s lawyer, on Saturday, May 21, the prosecution in East Cairo remanded him to custody for another 15 days pending investigation for a long list of accusations. Among the charges are working with the Muslim Brotherhood to overthrow the regime, inciting attacks on police stations, threatening the president, using international networks to commit terroristic acts, and broadcasting intentionally false news.
When police raided his home on Thursday, they were in plain clothes, very aggressive, and did not have a warrant in hand. After knocking Thabet’s father to the floor and overturning most of the apartment, they forcefully arrested Thabet.
“The way they treated Mina [was] inhuman. As if he was a serial killer or a criminal who did the worst crimes,” an individual close to the case told ICC. “What did Mina do [for them to] arrest him in this way and frame him with all these cases?”
There has been a wave of arrests in Egypt this past month, especially following the protests surrounding Egypt’s decision to hand over the Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia. These arrests included the head of ECRF, Ahmed Abdullah.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, said, “We condemn the arrest of Mina Thabet and the charges held against him. While Egypt has reason to heighten security concerning terror cells, they should be working with human rights activists and not against them. Heroes like Thabet should not fear harassment and imprisonment while working to better religious freedoms in their home country. We call on the Egyptian government to immediately release Thabet and others arrested because of their human rights work.”