Egypt’s Human Rights Defenders Remain Imprisoned
09/18/2021 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – Ramy Kamel, Patrick Zaki, and Peter Ragheb are all Egyptians who are facing detention for their advocacy for human rights and religious freedom. After multiple rounds of renewed 45-day detentions, Egypt’s government is indicating its lack of respect for freedom of speech.
Ramy Kamel, originally detained in November 2019, had his detention renewed on September 6 after a trial for another 45 days. Kamel is facing terrorism-related charges and believes to be targeted for his human rights work to document Egypt’s violations of freedom of religion. He founded the Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic human rights group, named after the Maspero massacre of October 2011 that resulted in the death of over 20 peaceful Coptic protestors at the hands of the military.
Patrick Zaki began his first trial session on September 14 after 19 months in pre-trial detention. Zaki, a researcher for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), was detained for the publishing of an opinion article in July 2019 titled “Displacement, Killing and Restriction: A Week’s Diaries of Egypt’s Copts”, which documents Zaki’s own life experiences and a Coptic Egyptian. He now faces trial on charges of “spreading false news inside and outside of the country” with the Emergency Court, whose rulings are not subject to appeal.
Peter Ragheb, the most recently detained of the three, is a lawyer who was arrested in March 2021. He was taken from his home, stripped of his clothes, and beaten. Ragheb faces accusations of spreading false information, malicious usage of social media websites, and of joining a terrorist organization. His outspoken brother has shared an open letter to the president, appealing for his release and on the toll Ragheb’s imprisonment has taken on the family. He remains in detention after another 45-day renewal.
Egypt’s human rights and religious freedom activists are being slowly punished for their advocacy, unsure of what their future may hold.
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