First section: The launch of the national dialogue sessions does not stop the wheel of repression
Second section: Violation of freedom of expression
First: Digital rights
Second: Academic freedom and student rights
Third: Freedom of the press and media
Fourth: Freedom of creativity and artistic expression
This report presents and analyzes the general policies of the Egyptian authorities and their various agencies towards the right to freedom of expression in its various forms, specifically freedom of the press and media, freedom of creativity and artistic expression, freedom of digital expression, academic freedoms, and student rights. The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) monitors and documents violations in these domains. It also provides legal aid to the victims of these violations through its lawyers at the legal unit. The report also reviews and analyzes the patterns of violations that were monitored and documented during the period from 1 April to 30 June 2023, according to AFTE’s monitoring and documentation methodology.
The national dialogue, which the President of the Republic called for in late April 2022, began its sessions during the second quarter of this year, with the aim of reaching an agreement on the priorities of national action and preparing for a number of stalled political reforms, according to the president. Despite the start of the sessions after a difficult series of negotiations between the sponsor of the dialogue and the civil democratic movement, policies hostile to human rights in general and the right to freedom of expression in particular continued with the same pattern and at almost the same pace. This was reflected in the violations that AFTE monitored and documented during the second quarter.
The security authorities continued to arrest and crack down on opinion-holders and political dissidents. They also continued to block news websites through an unknown government agency. Four news websites were blocked permanently or temporarily during the second quarter of this year.
This report tries to review and analyze the state of freedom of expression in Egypt during the second quarter of 2023 and document anti-freedom of expression policies. In particular, we are trying to answer the question: “Has the national dialogue been able to stop the wheel of repression?!”
First section: The launch of the national dialogue sessions does not stop the wheel of repression
The second quarter of 2023 witnessed the launch of the national dialogue sessions, a year after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for a political dialogue that brings together partisan and youth political forces without exclusion or discrimination.
The path of negotiation between the sponsor of the dialogue and the civil democratic movement was winding and unpaved. The opposition civil forces that participated in the dialogue were motivated and watching out for its outcome. This was clearly demonstrated in the speech of Mr. Farid Zahran, the head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and member of the bureau of the Civil Movement, at the opening session of the national dialogue, in which he said that the Civil Movement was about not to participate in the dialogue, but it decided to participate reluctantly lest the opposition would be accused of obstructing political reform and rejecting dialogue. The Civil Movement took a vote on participation in the national dialogue, and the result came in favor of participation by a very limited margin, from 9 to 12 votes.
The reluctance by the Civil Movement and its various parties to participate in the national dialogue was mainly due to the failure of the sponsor of the dialogue to fulfil the pledges that were agreed upon in order to prepare the atmosphere ahead of the dialogue and to ensure the authorities’ seriousness in carrying out political reforms and opening the public sphere. These pledges mainly included sorting out the issue of prisoners of conscience completely, stopping the prosecution and arrest of opinion-holders and dissidents, freeing media outlets, ending the blocking of news websites, allowing legitimate parties and civil organizations to operate freely, and lifting restrictions on human rights defenders.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian authorities continued to pursue policies hostile to the right to freedom of thought and expression, without legal or political deterrence, and without any regard to the path of calm allegedly sponsored by the political authorities. Aida Mahmoud Othman, a member of the Nasserist Party, and Nagwa Khashaba, a member of the Karama (dignity) Party, were arrested for Facebook posts a few days before the start of the dialogue. Journalist Hassan al-Qabbani was also arrested in the morning of the opening session of the national dialogue on 3 May 2023. They were all released later after widespread condemnation by participants in the dialogue.
In this context, AFTE affirms that the arrest and security and judicial prosecution of opinion-holders and dissidents have not ceased since the call for national dialogue in April last year until the time of writing this report. News websites continued to be blocked, in violation of the law, in case of publishing any news or reports that do not comply with the central editorial policy directed by the security services. The Egyptian authorities blocked four news websites during this quarter, two permanently and two temporarily.
On 30 May, i.e. before the end of the first month of the national dialogue sessions, a number of thugs stormed the venue of the extraordinary general assembly of the Engineers Syndicate, just ahead of announcing the result of the vote of no confidence in the syndicate’s head Tarek al-Nabrawy. The vote was called for by the syndicate’s bureau. Before the announcement of the result, whose signs clearly showed great support for Nabarawy, with a historic participation of more than 25,000 engineers in the vote, the thugs assaulted the attendees, smashed the ballot boxes, and intimidated the judicial committee supervising the vote and forcibly prevented it from announcing the result.
The storming was spearheaded by some leading members of the Nation’s Future Party, including MPs and secretariat officials of the party. This prompted a number of participants in the national dialogue to demand the suspension of the party’s participation in the dialogue until the completion of the Public Prosecution’s investigations into the reports submitted about the incident. They based their demand on the dialogue’s regulation, which stipulates the exclusion of anyone who practiced, incited or participated in violence.
The national dialogue sessions have been discussing various issues over the past two months. However, violations have not stopped, policies have not changed, and we have not seen any breakthrough that reflects any seriousness in carrying out political reforms which the president himself said have been stalled for years.
Second section: Violation of freedom of expression
First: Digital rights
The authorities continued to pursue a policy hostile to digital rights in the second quarter of 2023. They are persistently trying to narrow the spaces of various freedoms, especially digital freedom on social media. In this regard, AFTE documented 16 violations, including the arrest of citizens for publishing posts critical of the government policies on Facebook or owning Facebook pages, the arrest of party members for expressing their views on social media, the arrest of citizens for publishing photos and videos that violate the Egyptian family values, and finally the continued blocking of websites. The violations documented by AFTE during the second quarter of this year mainly focused on Facebook, compared to the first quarter during which TikTok users had their share of restrictions and arbitrariness.
The violations observed during the second quarter of the year indicate that the authorities resorted to arbitrariness and prosecution when the national dialogue was launched. These included the arrest of a number of party members for expressing their opinions on Facebook, including members of the Nasserist Party, the Dostour (constitution) Party, the Karama (dignity) Party and the Conservative Party, with a noticeable increase in the blocking of websites, such as Masr 360 and Soulta 4, compared to the previous quarter.
Key patterns of violations:
Model sentenced for violating the Egyptian family values
Security forces arrested model Salma al-Shimy at Cairo airport upon her return from the UAE for allegedly publishing indecent photos and videos that incite debauchery. The prosecution charged her with violating the Egyptian family values. On 18 April 2023, the Economic Misdemeanor Court in Alexandria sentenced Shimy to two years in prison and ordered her to pay a fine of 100,000 pounds on charges of filming and broadcasting obscene videos online in exchange for money. Shimy is a famous blogger and fashion model.
Citizens arrested for sharing Facebook posts critical of political and economic conditions
On 27 March 2023, security forces arrested Dr. Hany Soliman and forcibly disappeared him for more than a week. He appeared before the State Security Prosecution on 2 April in connection with Case No. 508 of 2023 (Supreme State Security). The prosecution charged him with joining a terrorist group, spreading false news, and misusing social media. He was arrested over Facebook posts critical of President Sisi and his security policies, in particular a post dated 26 March 2023 entitled “The painful truth” which criticized the regime and addressed scenarios of Sisi’s departure from power.
Soliman is a former marketing manager at Pfizer in the Middle East, a consultant of dermatology and venereology, and a former director of the National Training Institute at the Ministry of Health.
In the same context, a National Security police force raided the house of Dr. Ahmed al-Tabakh, a 45-year-old professor at the Faculty of Dentistry at Misr University for Science and Technology, in Sheikh Zayed, Giza governorate, on 22 February 2023. He was arrested over Facebook posts addressing the price hikes. The police searched the house and confiscated Tabakh’s personal belongings, including his mobile phone, computer, his daughter’s phone and camera. Tabakh was then forcibly disappeared, despite moves by his family to know his whereabouts. The family asked the Giza Security Directorate, but the latter denied his presence there. The family then filed complaints at the cabinet and submitted three petitions to the Public Prosecutor demanding disclosure of his place of detention. Tabakh appeared before the Sheikh Zayed Prosecution on 19 April 2023. The prosecution remanded him in custody for four days pending investigation into Case No. 1266 of 2023 (Second Zayed Misdemeanor). He faced charges of joining a terrorist group and spreading false news. He was interrogated in the absence of his lawyer after being forcibly disappeared for nearly two months.
Relatives of political prisoners arrested for sharing posts on social media
Security forces arrested Neama Hisham, the wife of political prisoner lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer, from her house on 17 April. She was taken to an unknown destination. She was arrested for publishing Facebook posts detailing her visit to her husband in prison and reporting that he had injuries and was held in solitary confinement. Neama was released hours after her arrest.
Party members and political activists arrested on charges of spreading false news
Security forces arrested Mohamed Ibrahim Abdullah, a member of the Karama Party in Qalyubia governorate, from his home in the village of Tahanoub in Shebin al-Qanater district on 27 March 2023. He appeared before the prosecution in the first ten days of April 2023, where the prosecution decided to remand him in custody for 15 days pending investigation over his activity on Facebook through the “Betaa al-Shawari ” page, which criticized the situation in the country.
Meanwhile, security forces arrested Ahmed Fathy, a member of the Dostour Party, from his home in Alexandria between 3 and 5 April 2023. He appeared before the State Security Prosecution on 8 April 2023, where he faced charges of joining a terrorist group and spreading false news. The prosecution remanded him in custody for 15 days pending investigation.
In the same context, security forces arrested Nagwa Khashaba, a member of the Karama Party, from her home on 1 May 2023 after she published posts on social media criticizing the political and economic situation in the country. She appeared before the State Security Prosecution on 2 May, where she faced charges of spreading false news and joining a terrorist group. The prosecution remanded her in custody for 15 days pending investigation into Case No. 744 of 2023 (State Security).
Similarly, security forces arrested Aida Mahmoud Othman, a member of the Nasserist Party, from her home in the Matareya neighborhood in Cairo on 27 April 2023. She appeared before the State Security Prosecution on 2 May, where she faced charges of spreading false news and joining a group established in violation of the law. The prosecution remanded her in custody for 15 days pending investigation into Case No. 710 of 2023 (State Security).
Security forces arrested Wael Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, a member of the Dostour Party and an assistant professor at Stanford University in the United States, at Cairo airport while he was returning from the United States on 14 May 2023. He was brought before the State Security Prosecution on the same day in connection with Case No. 325 of 2023 (Supreme State Security). The prosecution faced him with posts from his Facebook account criticizing the regime. It remanded him in custody for 15 days pending investigation. On 24 May, the prosecution renewed his detention for another 15 days.
The Public Prosecution summoned the former spokesman of the Civil Movement, Yahya Hussein Abdel-Hady on 13 April 2023 to appear before the Nasr City Misdemeanor Court in connection with Case No. 1206 of 2023 for possessing publications. Abdel-Hady was surprised by a new accusation of publishing three articles on Facebook containing false news such as abuse of citizens during the period from 7 August 2022 to 20 March 2023. The three articles were titled “When will they speak?”, “Shame and dialogue”, and “But they should be all released, including the Brotherhood members”, respectively. The trial session was adjourned to 11 May 2023. Abdel-Hady received a presidential pardon in June 2022 after spending about three years in prison.
Abdel-Hady is a political activist. He founded the Civil Democratic Movement in 2017 and served as the movement’s official spokesperson until his arrest in January 2019.
Second: Academic freedom and student rights
The authorities claim that the national dialogue was loaded with values of participation and freedom and gave the opportunity to various political parties and human rights organizations to shed light on marginalized issues. However, the dialogue did not prevent the authorities and universities from continuing to crack down on academics for their previous political activity, and students for their activities outside the university.
The Egyptian authorities have actively helped university administrations to impose arbitrary restrictions on the exercise of students’ right to expression inside universities over the past decade through many violations. These included the crackdown by the security services on university activists on the one hand, and the administrative prosecution by university administrations on the other. These violations succeeded in closing all outlets for expression to students.
During this quarter, the authorities continued to pursue and abuse researchers abroad in various ways. In the same context, universities continued to interfere in the students’ private lives and level various accusations, specifically the charge of contempt of religions. In this regard, the Sinai University referred a student to investigation on charges of contempt of religions, which contradicts the university’s competencies and powers in the first place.
Key patterns of violations:
University continues to pursue Mohamed Mohieddin after his release from prison
Assistant professor at the Faculty of Engineering of Beni Suef University and former political prisoner Dr. Mohamed Mohieddin received a letter from the faculty asking him to refund sums of money disbursed to him as part of his financial dues. Lawyers of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights received the letter on behalf of Mohieddin, in their capacity as his agents.
Mohieddin spent more than three years in pretrial detention in connection with Case No. 277 of 2018. Immediately after his detention, his wife handed the university a paper stating that he had been detained in November 2019. As a result, the university paid him half of his monthly salary from the beginning of his detention until December 2021. Then, the university paid him a full salary from January 2022 to July 2022. Mohieddin was released in June 2022. He applied for a return to his work, but the university rejected his request under the pretext that he had been absent from his job without an excuse. The university also refused to communicate with the prosecution to obtain evidence of his detention. Mohieddin was dismissed by decision No. 1163 issued in August 2022. As a result, he filed lawsuit No. 1929 of 10 before the Administrative Judiciary Court, demanding a return to his work. The court adjourned the hearing to 23 July 2023 in order to hear the pleadings.
The university requests Mohieddin to refund half of the salary that was wrongly paid to him from January to July 2022 (about 25,000 pounds) in addition to the exam bonus and the August salary, which it claims were paid to Mohieddin, thus bringing the total refund it requests to about 56,000 pounds. However, Mohieddin denies that he received the August salary or the exam bonus. In other words, the university pursues Mohieddin to refund money that he did not receive and also refuses to return him to his work.
Former student leader Moaz al-Sharqawy arrested for the second time
Security forces arrested Moaz al-Sharqawy from his home in the Mokattam neighborhood in Cairo on 11 May. They warned neighbors not to intervene and then took him to an unknown place. Sharqawy was forcibly disappeared for more than three weeks until he appeared before the State Security Prosecution in New Cairo on 3 June 2023. He said he was subjected to many violations, including torture and enforced disappearance, and that he was prevented from communicating with his family or lawyer. On 13 July 2023, the State Security Prosecution renewed his detention for 15 days pending investigation into Case No. 540 of 2023 (State Security). The prosecution charged him with joining a terrorist group and committing a terrorist financing crime.
Sharqawy is a former student leader, having won the position of vice president of the Tanta University students’ union in 2015. He was arrested at a security checkpoint on the Sharm el-Sheikh Road in 2018 and forcibly disappeared for about 25 days. He was investigated in connection with Case No. 440 of 2018 (State Security), and was held in pretrial detention for a year and a half. He was released in 2020. In August 2021, he was referred to the Emergency State Security Criminal Court. In May 2022, the court sentenced him to 10 years in prison, but the verdict has not yet been ratified and is therefore not enforceable and Sharqawy should not be arrested.
Ahmed Samir Santawy banned from traveling to resume his study for the second time
On 3 June 2023, Ahmed Samir Santawy went to Cairo Airport to travel to Austria to resume his master’s studies and attend the graduation ceremony, but he was banned from traveling. He was taken to the State Security office at the airport and interrogated for a quarter of an hour about the reason of his travel on the grounds that he had previously been imprisoned. An officer then took him to the exit door, according to Santawy’s testimony to AFTE.
Santawy was previously banned from traveling to Austria on 27 August 2022, where three officers approached him upon his arrival at the airport and told him that he was banned from traveling, giving no further explanation.
The targeting of Santawy started on 1 February 2021, when he was arrested and interrogated in connection with Case No. 65 of 2021 (Supreme State Security). On 22 May 2021, he was investigated in connection with Case No. 877 of 2021 (Supreme State Security). On 29 May 2021, the Supreme State Security Prosecution referred him to an urgent trial before the Emergency Supreme State Security Court in connection with the new case.
On 4 July 2022, the Emergency State Security Misdemeanor Court issued a new verdict in Case No. 774 of 2021 (Emergency State Security Misdemeanor), registered with No. 877 of 2021 (Supreme State Security Prosecution), sentencing Santawy to three years in prison on charges of spreading false news. The verdict came after a previous verdict was overturned on 22 June 2021 in the same case that sentenced him to four years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of 500 pounds. On 29 July 2022, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi pardoned seven prisoners of conscience, including Santawy.
Santawy is a master’s researcher in anthropology at the Central European University in Vienna, where he began his studies in anthropology and social sciences in September 2019. He was subjected to several violations, including ill-treatment and torture during interrogation by National Security officers, and physical assault by the deputy warden of Tora Prison on 22 February 2021.
Student Abanoub Emad referred to investigation on charge of contempt of religions
On 19 June 2023, the Zagazig University referred Abanoub Emad, a student at the Faculty of Dentistry, to a disciplinary hearing and took all administrative measures against him on charges of insulting Islam and contempt of religions. The story began after several screenshots of a chat between Emad and another person insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad went viral. A hashtag calling for bringing Emad to account spread on social media. As a result, the university issued a statement referring the student to a disciplinary board. Meanwhile, Emad said that his account had been hacked and that he was not responsible for what was posted on it.
Emad was interrogated by the National Security Agency, and then released without being presented to the prosecution. Meanwhile, the university president said they are studying a decision that will be taken after investigating the student.
Third: Freedom of the press and media
Violations against freedom of the press and media continued during the second quarter of 2023, as AFTE reported 8 incidents that contained 9 violations. These included coverage ban, detention while performing journalistic work, and blocking websites, with the last being the most prominent violation during this quarter. The authorities blocked four news websites permanently or temporarily and prevented a politician from appearance on the TV channels affiliated to the state-owned United Media Services (UMS). TV anchor Qaswaa al-Khalaly announced on her Facebook page that politician Hamdeen Sabahi would not appear on her show “The evening with Qaswaa” on CBC TV, which was scheduled to be aired in May. “The UMS apologized to the great politician Hamdeen Sabahi for not hosting him on its screens, and for the invitation it sent him to appear in an episode on the air. Hamdeen Sabahi accepted the apology,” she said. This happens at a time when the government promotes a narrative of opening windows for the opposition through the national dialogue as one of the political reform initiatives. This indicates that the government does not have a real desire to listen to opposing voices, even through its media outlets.
Key patterns of violations:
- Arrest of journalists
A small number of journalists imprisoned in connection with publishing cases were released during the second quarter of this year. On 17 April 2023, the Supreme State Security Prosecution decided to release journalist Hisham Abdel-Aziz who was detained in connection with Case No. 1956 of 2019. Abdel-Aziz was arrested in June 2019 after returning from Doha to spend his regular vacation. He was detained in connection with Case No. 1365 of 2018 (State Security) on charges of joining a terrorist group.
In June 2023, Mohamed Mustafa Moussa, a journalist at Al-Bawaba News, was released under the guarantee of his place of residence pending investigation into Case No. 1977 of 2022 (Supreme State Security). Moussa was arrested on 5 November 2022 on charges of joining a terrorist group, spreading false news, and misusing social media.
Journalist Hassan al-Qabbany was arrested on 3 May 2023, coinciding with the World Press Freedom Day and the start of the first sessions of the national dialogue. Security forces arrested Qabbany at dawn from his home and took him to an unknown destination. Communication was made with the head of the Journalists Syndicate, members of the syndicate’s council, and coordinator of the national dialogue Diaa Rashwan to intervene to release him, and indeed he was released a few hours later.
- Continued blocking of independent news websites
Although the authorities unblocked the Socialist Popular Alliance Party’s website (Darb), which was headed by the current head of the Journalists Syndicate, Khaled al-Balshy, they renewed their targeting of independent news websites during the second quarter of the year.
AFTE documented the blocking of the Soulta 4 website. The website’s editor-in-chief and founder, Rimon Wageeh, said he was surprised on 10 June that he was unable to access the website while it was being updated. He made sure that the website was blocked inside Egypt because users abroad were able to access it. He noted that the Journalists Syndicate had informed him that the website was blocked due to his failure to apply for a license in accordance with Law No. 180 of 2018. He stressed that he had been seeking a license for some time and had already established a company affiliated with the General Authority for Investment, but the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) requested capital equivalent to 100,000 pounds, so he had to modify the licensing procedures.
Meanwhile, the founder of the Masr 360 website, Hussein Bahgat, said his website was blocked on 17 June, stressing that he did not receive any warnings or signals indicating the possibility of blocking the website. As soon as he confirmed the blocking, Bahgat contacted the Journalists Syndicate and it told him that the website was blocked due to the lack of license, despite the fact that he submitted a request to the SCMR for a license more than six months earlier, but did not receive any response, something which negates the justifications made by the Journalists Syndicate.
The two websites were likely blocked due to the content they published. The Soulta 4 website covers political and party news, especially news of the opposition Civil Democratic Movement, while the Masr 360 website mainly covers news of human rights violations and has recently criticized the acquisition by Emirati companies of Egyptian assets.
AFTE conducted some technical tests which showed the inability to access the two websites.
In a related context, a number of users were surprised that the BBC’s Arabic and English websites could not be accessed for several hours on 16 April, but the two websites were back to normal early the next day. Users also found it difficult to access Al-Masry Al-Youm website, starting on the evening of 15 April 2023, either via smartphones or computers. The website was completely blocked the next day.
Speaking to Al-Manassa website on condition of anonymity, a source said the website was blocked likely for publishing reports on the detention of Egyptians in Sudan after the outbreak of unrest there. After the website worked again, it was observed that a news report titled “Sudanese Rapid Support Forces to Al-Masry Al-Youm: We appreciate the Egyptian armed forces and will hand over the military group to them soon” was removed. Meanwhile, Al-Masry Al-Youm’s editor-in-chief Abdel-Latif al-Manawy said in the same report that he had no information about the blocking of the website.
The blocking decisions violate Article 71 of the constitution, which states that “it is prohibited to censor, confiscate, suspend or shut down Egyptian newspapers and media outlets in any way… and no custodial penalty shall be imposed for publication or publicity crimes”.
The licensing circuit of the Administrative Judiciary Court issued a ruling on 24 May rejecting the lawsuit filed by the Mada Masr website, and upheld the SCMR’s decision to refuse to license the website for “not registering its trademark”. The website had applied for registration in October 2018, when the SCMR called on websites to regularize their statuses. However, the company that owns the website received no response, according to a statement posted earlier on the website. The website’s lawyer submitted a certificate of trademark registration, but the court ignored it and issued its ruling.
- Detention while performing journalistic work
On 26 April, journalist Asma Hassan of Al-Fagr newspaper said she was detained inside the Zamalek Club by the club’s president, Mortada Mansour. In an interview with journalist Ahmed Galal posted on Facebook, Hassan said she learnt that there were troubles in the club, lights there were turned off as of 10 o’clock in the evening, and the club members were asked to leave. So, she went to the club to cover the incidents. She filmed the situation live, where no club members were there. While filming, she saw the club’s security guards trying to take another journalist to Mansour’s office by force, so she decided to leave the club. Then, the guards closed the club’s doors and prevented her from leaving, giving no reasons for that. She said she was panicked and asked for help. As people gathered, the doors were opened and she left, but the guards pursued her, claiming that she sought fame and wanted to trigger problems. Then, she called the police and went to the Agouza police station and filed a report about the incident. Then, she had a chat with Mansour about the live filming and he asked her to submit a note to the club’s security guards, as if he did not know anything about the incident, although it was filmed. Meanwhile, head of the Journalists Syndicate Khaled al-Balshy and members of the syndicate’s council followed up the situation until Hassan filed a report at the police station. Hassan told AFTE that the prosecution did not take any action until the moment of writing this report under the pretext of waiting for the police investigations. She said when she went to pay the subscription fees of her membership of the club in June, she was surprised that her membership was suspended without reason.
Fourth: Freedom of creativity and artistic expression
With regard to freedom of creativity, AFTE reported only one violation during the second quarter of this year. On 20 June, the Syndicate of Musical Professions, headed by Mustafa Kamel, issued a decision to ban dealing with event planner Yasser al-Hariri because of the violations he committed. The syndicate said in a statement: “The Syndicate of Musical Professions decided not to deal with event planner Yasser al-Hariri because of the violations he committed regarding the memorandum of the syndicate’s inspection committee. All those concerned and the clubs he deals with shall be informed of this decision.”
The syndicate did not stop playing the role of censor over its members, as it commented on the controversy that arose on social media about the appearance of singer Ahmed Saad during a concert in the Saudi city of Jeddah, where he donned a transparent shirt and had two earrings in his ears. The syndicate said it was considering rules for bold looks on the stage.
Commenting on this, the syndicate’s lawyer, Alaa Amer, said in press statements that the syndicate’s council would discuss the issue in its coming meeting to reach a decisive decision on it.
The Egyptian authorities have not backtracked on their policies of restricting freedom of expression, as the security services still control the political scene. This contradicts the Egyptian authorities’ claims of their intention to adopt new policies that help resolve the political and human rights crisis that Egypt has been experiencing over the past decade.
AFTE criticizes the continued restrictions, except for individual decisions that do not bring about real change. It recommends the following:
- The security services should stop all forms of crackdown on individuals for expressing their views in various forms.
- The Public Prosecutor should release all those detained in connection with political cases.
- The Egyptian authorities should stop blocking news websites and unblock the websites that were blocked.
- The travel bans issued against researchers, journalists, and human rights defenders should be cancelled.
 AFTE's monitoring and documentation methodology, https://bit.ly/3vyVIFw  Fathy Suleiman, "Model Salma al-Shimy arrested for publishing obscene videos", Cairo 24, 3 April 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://www.cairo24.com/1776028?fbclid=IwAR1gpEsKyJtBHyy76ufy3pzl3q2OvmySCTjg9sjxWBEImdQtELjACS2HH6c  "For criticizing the regime: Hany Soliman arrested and detained," Egyptian Front for Human Rights, 7 April 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/aloqP  "After being forcibly disappeared for two months: unionist and dentist Ahmed al-Tabakh investigated", the Egyptian Front for Human Rights, 27 April 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/pCI34  "Neama Hisham arrested after revealing that her husband Mohamed al-Baqer was assaulted in his prison", the Facebook page of the Egyptian Commission for Human Rights, 17 April 2023, last visited on 17 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/cv012  "Karama Party member Mohamed Ibrahim Abdullah detained," Mada Masr on Facebook, 10 April 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/fpBS4  "Dostour Party member Ahmed Fathy detained," Mada Masr on Facebook, 11 April 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/kqvE7  "Nagwa Khashaba appears before the State Security Prosecution", the Egyptian Front for Human Rights, 3 May 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/dvJK6  "The detention of Nasserist Party member Aida Mahmoud Othman continues", the Egyptian Front for Human Rights, 4 May 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/kxR37  "The detention of Al-Dostour Party member and academic Wael Abdel-Rahim renewed", the Egyptian Front for Human Rights, 26 May 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/dlmpT  "Yahya Hussein Abdel-Hady investigated", Darb, 9 May 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/fqFUZ; Abdel-Hady’s Facebook page, 9 May 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/xP679  Testimony from Dr. Mohamed Mohieddin Othman to AFTE on 18 May 2023.  "Egregious violations against Moaz al-Sharqawy during the three weeks of enforced disappearance," the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), 4 June 2023, last visited on 17 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/hsx04  Testimony from researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy to AFTE on 13 July 2023  Testimony from researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy in July 2022  "No progress… the third quarterly report on the state of freedom of expression in Egypt,” AFTE, November 2022, last visited on 1 February 2023, https://afteegypt.org/research/2022/11/15/32735-afteegypt.html  "Decision to refer student Abanoub Emad to investigation", Zagazig University’s Media Center page, 19 June 2023, last visited on 17 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/DJRYZ; Mohamed Adel, "Zagazig University refers a student to disciplinary board on charges of contempt of religions", Al-Manassa, 22 June 2023, last visited on 17 July 2023, https://manassa.news/node/11843  Zat Masr, UMS apologizes to "Hamdeen Sabahi" for not appearing with "Qaswaa al-Khalaly", published on 17 May 2023, last visited on 25 July 2023, http://bitly.ws/Nupb  Deutsche Welle, Egypt releases "Al Jazeera Mubasher" journalist after he was held in pretrial detention for four years, 1 May 2023, last visited on 24 July 2023, http://bitly.ws/NsQR  Al Bawaba News, Mona Obeid, Balshy announces the release of journalist Mohamed Mustafa Moussa, 26 June 2023, last visited on 23 July 2023, http://bitly.ws/Nt8x  Zat Masr, Journalist Hassan al-Qabbany released… Sources to Zat Masr: More to be released today, 3 May 2023, last visited on 24 July 2023, http://bitly.ws/NrU6  Cairo 24, Mahmoud Shoman, Popular Alliance: Darb website unblocked after regularizing its status; Balshy quits the post of its editor-in-chief, 9 April 2023, last visited on 24 July 2023, http://bitly.ws/NszP  Al-Manassa, Afaf Abdel-Moneim and Noura Younis, Soulta 4 and Masr 360 websites blocked; Supreme Council for Media Regulation: They did not apply for a license, 11 June 2023, last visited on 24 July 2023, http://bitly.ws/Ntgj  "The BBC and Al-Masry Al-Youm websites blocked for a while," Al-Manassa, 17 April 2023, last visited on 16 July 2023, https://shorturl.at/cegsv  Article 71 of the Egyptian constitution, http://bitly.ws/NtEj  Al-Manassa, Mohamed Adel, The Administrative Judiciary Court refuses to license Mada Masr website for not registering the trademark", 24 May 2023, last visited on 24 July 2023, https://rb.gy/gvb17  Asmaa Hassan’s Facebook page, 26 April 2023, last visited on 25 July 2023, http://bitly.ws/NtTz  Sada el-Balad, Aya Atef, The Syndicate of Musical Professions bans dealing with Yasser al-Hariri, 26 July 2023, last visited on 25 July 2023, http://bitly.ws/NuKu  Layalina, After stirring up controversy, urgent move by the Syndicate of Musical Professions regarding Ahmed Saad's appearance, 27 May 2023, last visited on 25 July 2023, http://bitly.ws/Nvk2