Still responding to the Arab Spring in 2011, many governments in the region have increasingly restricted space for citizens to mobilize and organize. Coupled with severe anti-terrorism measures, many governments impose harsh penalties for speaking out on human rights violations, holding peaceful public gatherings, and questioning authorities and religious teaching. In recent years, an increasing number of political prisoners has been witnessed in Bahrain and Egypt in particular.
Abdulhadi Al Khawaja
Detained March 17, 2011
Detained March 17, 2011
Detained on December 18, 2013
UPDATE: On 22 January 2017, after spending three years in jail, he was released and began his probation term. He remains under strict government surveillance. The confining nature of his probation has prevented him from having a wedding and attending his university classes. Mohamed Adel is the media spokesperson and founder of the April 6 Youth Movement. On December 18, 2013, Adel was arrested by Egyptian authorities after they stormed the offices of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR). Adel was volunteering in the organization’s media unit at the time.
Detained on November 29, 2015
Journalist and youth activist, Ismail Alexandrani, was arrested on November 29, 2015. He was charged with “belonging to an illegal group (the Muslim Brotherhood), promoting its ideas, and propagating false news.” Alexandrani has been held in pre-trial detention since his arrest, which has been repeatedly extended over the past year.
Sheikh Abdullah Isa Al-Mahroos
Detained August 13, 2010
Detained on November 30, 2013
Detained December 3, 2013
Detained on October 21, 2015
Hisham Gaafar is a prominent Egyptian journalist, researcher, and the director of the Mada Foundation for Media Development. On October 21, 2015, police forces stormed Gaafar’s office without a warrant, searched the premises, and arrested Gaafar. The prosecution charged Gaafar with belonging “to a banned group [Muslim Brotherhood] and international bribery.” The Arabic Network For Human Rights Information claimed that his report titled “Strengthening the Democratic Political Sphere in Egypt” led to his detention in October 2015.
Detained June 13, 2016
Detained on September 22, 2015
In October 2013, Amr Ali was elected as the new head of the April 6 Youth Movement, succeeding founder Ahmed Maher. In September 22, 2015, the security forces arrested Ali in the city of Ashmoun, Monufiya, and transferred him to the National Security Agency for interrogations. In February 29, 2016, Ali was sentenced to three years in jail and a fine of 500 Egyptian pounds for “conspiring to overthrow the government.”
Aya Hijazi and Mohamed Hassanein
Detained on May 1, 2014
UPDATE: On April 16, 2017, Egyptian-American Aya Hijazi and her husband Mohamed Hassanein, the founders of Belady Foundation for Street Children, were found not guilty and released from prison. The foundation was launched in 2013 and focused on rehabilitating Cairo’s street children and broader developmental programs. On May 1, 2014, the organization’s offices were raided and the couple was arrested alongside two volunteers and 17 children who were on the premises at the time. The couple was charged with “child abuse,” “human trafficking,” and “inciting and exploiting children to participate in violent protests,” among other charges.