Monday, February 24, 2014

Egyptian government crackdown on academics

by Salman Hameed

The government of Egypt is being absolute in quashing any dissent. In particular, it has - so far - been successful in treating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group in its entirety, and to prosecute anyone who has any sympathies with the group. I doubt that this kind of absolutism will last more than a few years. In the mean time, however, people are paying a high price. And worse, even those people who study Egypt are not safe either:
The indictment here of a well-known professor on charges of espionage has sparked new concerns about academic freedom in Egypt. The military-backed government is carrying out a widespread crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that until last year governed the country. Some political scientists say they can no longer speak freely for fear of being accused of supporting the Brotherhood. 
That is what Emad el-Din Shahin, a professor of public policy at the American University
in Cairo, said happened to him. Mr. Shahin, editor in chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics and a former visiting professor at Harvard University and the University of Notre Dame, is a defendant in what prosecutors have dubbed “the greatest espionage case in the country’s modern history.” 
Mr. Shahin’s co-defendants are mostly senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including former President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the army following mass protests last summer. Among the specific charges against the professor are espionage, leading an illegal organization, providing a banned organization with information and financial support, calling for the suspension of the constitution, preventing state institutions and authorities from performing their functions, harming national unity and social harmony, and trying to change the government by force. 
Fortunately, Shahin was out of the country at the time, and may not be young back in the foreseeable future. In the mean time, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) has also drafted a letter in support of Emad Shahin. But he is not the only one and academics now have to think twice before visiting Egypt:
Last year two Canadian academics were detained for nearly two months after being accused by Egyptian prosecutors of “participating with members of the Muslim Brotherhood” in an attack on a police station. While neither is a political scientist, their case showed the risks facing visiting professors. 
Mr. Shahin’s case has drawn the most public attention, but other academics also face prosecution for public statements. Amr Hamzawy, a professor of political science, also at the American University in Cairo, has been charged with “insulting the judiciary” for a post on Twitter criticizing a court ruling. Mr. Hamzawy has played a prominent political role in the last three years, winning a seat in Parliament and leading a liberal party. He has also criticized the military’s ouster of Mr. Morsi last summer and the crackdown on Islamists that has left more than 1,000 dead and tens of thousands in prison.
What a shame! Read the full story here


Pakistan news said...

When there are democracies in neighborhoods of Egypt, it is suffering from military rule. It is considerable.

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