Quarterly Report on the State of Freedom of Expression in Egypt Third Quarter (July-September 2019)

Date : Tuesday, 26 November, 2019

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The violations contained in the report are prepared and analyzed by:
Sarah Mohsen, Researcher at the monitoring and documentation unit
Wessam Atta, Director of the monitoring and documentation unit

Edited by:
Mohamed Abdel Salam: Director of the research unit at the Association for the Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)



First: A reading into the state of freedom of expression
• September demonstrations: Massive violations of the right to freedom of demonstration, freedom of expression and the right to privacy.
• Investigations by the Supreme State Security Prosecution: Repeated accusations and imprisonment pending investigations for all demonstrators

Second: Presentation and analysis of patterns of violations of freedom of expression
• Freedom of the press and the media
• Digital rights
• Freedom of creativity
• Academic Freedoms

Third: Recommendations on the protection of freedom of expression


The report presents and analyzes some topics related to the right to freedom of expression and the free flow of information. It aims at assessing the general policies of state institutions towards the right to freedom of expression and free flow of information. The report also relied on the presentation and analysis of the violations documented in accordance with the association’s monitoring and documentation methodology. Violations were documented in the period from June 26th to September 30th, 2019. The period covered by the report was exceptionally extended to the end of September, due to the repressive wave the country witnessed during September.


The continued decline in the practice of the right to freedom of expression by Egyptian citizens is considered a direct result of the practices of the regime of President Sisi, who is facing a major crisis in the managing internal politics, hence the Egyptian authorities are increasingly resorting to suppressing freedom of expression with the aim of eliminating the opportunities of political opposition or peaceful protest.

AFTE monitored in its third quarterly report for 2019 the expansion of human rights violations, particularly the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. These are rights linked to enabling the citizens to participate politically.

The massive violations of the right to freedom of expression occurred in conjunction with limited demonstrations in September, called for by the contractor Mohammed Ali, who accused the president and the military establishment of corruption.

During this year, Sisi’s regime succeeded in passing constitutional amendments and aborting a move by the opposition parties aiming to build an electoral alliance for the 2020 parliamentary elections. The regime also implemented economic reforms, which included the removal of fuel subsidies. But September protests raised questions and concerns about the internal political situation and the stability of the country; it has been shown that there is anger among citizens as a result of the deterioration of the living conditions, as well as the lack of political tools through which the current regime can stop the policies that cause the deterioration of the living conditions and the freezing of political activities.

Sisi’s regime launched a crackdown that led to the arrest of more than four thousand people, according to what the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms monitored, which was published on October 20, 2019. Hundreds of those arrested were released, but there are more than two thousand citizens who are still in pre-trial detention, in addition to dozens who forcibly disappeared. The report addresses in its first section the scale of the crackdown during the September protests, both at the level of human rights violations or the abuse in the use of pre-trial detention, as well as the situation of human rights defenders who have been arrested, such as Mohamad Al-Baqer and Israa Abdel Fattah.

In the second section, the report addresses the impact of the crackdown during the September protests on freedom of the media, freedom of creativity, digital rights, and academic freedom. Several journalists, creators and university professors have been subjected to detention and pre-trial detention. The Egyptian authorities continued to practice internet censorship and it blocked more websites, including journalistic and news websites; Egyptian authorities also tried to prevent access to the internet before the September 27th demonstrations. In its third section, the report presents some recommendations to the concerned entities, with the aim of stopping the significant decline in the practice of the right to freedom of expression.

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