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memri
August 16, 2018 No.
1412

As He Begins His Second Term, Egyptian President El-Sisi Escalates Repression Of Critics

By: Y. Graff*

The first few months of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's second term have been notable for his suppression of potential opponents and for his prevention of any criticism of him – even from elements who once supported him, or from social activists who so far had been allowed to operate in relative freedom.

These repressive measures came in the form of an increasing wave of arrests, in April and May 2018, against journalists and political activists, for alleged offenses such as publishing false news, membership in a banned organization, and seeking to undermine public peace and stability. Along with the arrests came new legislation restricting freedom of expression in the press, on news websites, in blogs, and on social media, allegedly to fight rumormongering and the dissemination of false news in the country. Additionally, various Arab media outlets published reports on the house arrest of security officials who had been fired in the past year – a former intelligence chief, a former defense minister, and a former interior minister – in an apparent attempt by El-Sisi to purge the country's most powerful institution and to prevent grumbling by rivals in the circles closest to him.

These moves were criticized on social media and in articles in the Arab media, primarily outside Egypt. The criticism focused on disappointment at the regime's harsh repressive moves, and warned of the ramifications they could have for El-Sisi's rule in the future.

This report will review the recent repressive moves by the El-Sisi regime and reactions to them.

The First Months Of El-Sisi's Second Term: Suppression Of Any Sign Of Criticism

Since his reelection, in late March 2018, Egyptian President El-Sisi's regime has continued to severely hobble opponents and to suppress any possible opposition to his rule and policy.[1] These measures have included harassment and arrests of journalists and human rights activists and new legislation restricting freedom of the press and of expression. Thus, in early April 2018 the Egyptian Al-Masri Al-Yawm daily was fined and its editor-in-chief Muhammad Al-Sid Salah was fired and also investigated for publishing a news item on Election Day that stated that the regime had "mobilized" the voters by offering financial incentives to regions with high voter turnout.[2] Additionally, the regime arrested several journalists, who joined the hundreds of others in prison, the most prominent of them Masr Al-Arabiyya website editor 'Adel Sabri and blogger and journalist Muhammad Ibrahim, aka Muhammad Oxygen. The Al-Misriyyoun daily quoted media expert Hashem Qassem as saying: "The current period is the worst ever for the Egyptian press; it has never experienced an attack like the one against it right now."[3]

During May 2018, several political and human rights activists were arrested, one after another. Some, like Amal Fathy  'Abd Al-Tawab,[4] were members of the April 6 Movement, that was one of the leaders of the Arab Spring in Egypt and whose leaders have been persecuted by the regime since 2013, and some were from other frameworks. Among those arrested were Shadi Al-Ghazali Harb, former top official in the Al-Dustour party, on May 16;[5] Haitham Mohamedeen, political activist in the Revolutionary Socialists movement, on May 19;[6] Wael 'Abbas, blogger and political activist, on May 23;[7] and Hazem 'Abd Al-'Azim, a leader of El-Sisi's first presidential campaign who later opposed him, on May 27, 2018.[8]

The regime's pretexts for these arrests were mostly vague; the activists were mostly accused of publishing false news with the intent of undermining public trust in the state institutions in order to foment crises and instability, or membership in an organization operating outside the law. The anti-Egyptian regime Arab media claimed that these accusations merely provided legal justification for the regime to "gag" the opposition.[9] Reports in these media stated that El-Sisi was acting to eliminate the liberal secular opposition, as he had previously eliminated the Islamic opposition,[10] and thus establish his status as undisputed ruler and prevent any future uprising to topple him.[11]

It was also hypothesized that some of the arrests were aimed at stopping anticipated criticism of the El-Sisi regime's economic policy, in light of the austerity measures imposed on the citizens, such as cuts to subsidies, increase in prices of goods, and new taxes, as required by the IMF in order to receive loans from it.[12] Some of the detainees noted above had taken place in public protests against the government's May 10 decision to raise subway fares.[13]

The Regime Reacts To Criticism Of Its Repressive Measures: We Have No Political Prisoners

The wave of arrests evoked intense international condemnation. In a phone conversation with El-Sisi on May 24, one day after the arrest of Wael 'Abbas, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence raised concerns over the arrest of non-violent activists,[14] and on May 30 the E.U. likewise condemned these arrests.[15] The Egyptian foreign ministry rejected the criticism, stating that "not a single Egyptian citizen has been arrested or prosecuted for human rights activism or for criticizing the government, [only] for crimes that are penalized by law."[16] The pro-regime daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' quoted Egyptian MPs who roundly condemned the E.U. statement, claiming that it responded to lies spread by the MB.[17]


Image posted on Twitter presents prominent Egyptian oppositionists currently under arrest: Shadi Al-Ghazali Harb, Hazem 'Abd Al-'Azim, Muhammad Al-Qassas, Amal Fathy 'Abd Al-Tawab, Wael 'Abbas, Ahmad Al-Douma, 'Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futouh, Sami 'Anan, Hisham Genina, 'Amru 'Ali, Haitham Mohamedeen, 'Alaa 'Abd Al-Fattah and Shadi Abu Zeid (Twitter.com/Doaa33133, June 6, 2018)

Following Wave Of Arrests, Regime Passes Legislation Restricting Freedom Of Expression

In June and July the wave of arrests died down, only to be replaced by a wave of legislation severely restricting freedom of expression, apparently aimed at preempting future expressions of dissent. The regime presented the laws as intended to prevent the spreading of harmful rumors on social media regarding the domestic situation in Egypt.[18] On July 24 the government daily Al-Ahram published an investigative article which claimed that Egypt was facing a psychological warfare campaign in which "a fifth column" was spreading lies and rumors in order to "cast doubt on the political leadership." It added that "this campaign has intensified since the beginning of El-Sisi's second term, [and] its first and last goal is to halt the reform of the Egyptian state." The article quoted El-Sisi as saying that the country had been forced to deal with 21,000 rumors in three months.[19]


Cartoon in pro-regime daily: The MB uses Facebook "rumors" as ammunition against the regime (Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', Egypt, July 26, 2018)

On June 5, 2018, the Egyptian parliament passed the "Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law," authorizing the state to block websites for posting content deemed harmful to the country's economy or security.[20] Three weeks later, it was reported that the Katib website, part of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, had been blocked nine hours after its launching.[21]

On July 17 the parliament passed laws granting three bodies – the Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, the National Press Authority, and the National Media Authority (and especially the first of the three) – sweeping powers to monitor and restrict press and media activity in Egypt, including any personal social media account, blog or website with more than 5,000 followers. Under the law, the Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media is authorized to fine, shut down or block websites for violating the media laws, using violent or racist language or spreading false news.[22] 

Although the majority of journalists active in Egypt today are toeing the official line, the new media laws were approved only after undergoing several amendments demanded by journalists.[23] Moreover, even after they were passed with the approval of Press Syndicate head 'Abd Al-Muhsen Salama, half the members of the Press Syndicate Council issued a statement opposing the law. Their statement listed the problematic articles of the law, including Article 12, under which the authorities may require journalists to seek permission to engage in professional activities such as filming in public places, interviewing citizens, covering conferences, etc.; Article 29, under which the authorities may arrest journalists for inciting to violence or harming people's honor; and Articles 4, 5 and 19, which authorize shutting down personal and media websites.[24]

Reported Purges In Political And Security System

In late July 2018, unconfirmed reports appeared in the Arab press regarding dismissals and arrests of regime officials as another measure for consolidating El-Sisi's status. On July 29, 2018, the Arabi21 website, which is close to the MB, reported that former interior minister Magdy 'Abd Al-Ghaffar and former defense minister Sedki Sobhy, both of whom were dismissed from their posts recently, are under house arrest along with their families, and that their associates have also been fired from the ministries.[25] The Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reported on August 1, citing "sources," that former General Intelligence director Khaled Al-Fawzi, who was dismissed from his post in January 2018, has likewise been under house arrest since that time.[26] The regime was also blamed for a deterioration in the health of former military chief-of-staff Sami 'Anan, who was arrested after submitting his candidacy in the recent presidential elections.[27]

Egyptians On Social Media Call On El-Sisi To Resign; El-Sisi Responds With Rage

The regime's pressures did not prevent its critics from taking to social media to protest its policies. Following the arrest of Wael 'Abbas, writer Alaa Al-Aswany posted a tweet calling the regime fascistic,[28] and on the anniversary of the June 30 ouster of president Muhammad Morsi he posted another tweet in which he used a metaphor to protest the state of the liberals in Egypt: "I asked an engineer [i.e., the MB] to fix my house. He tore up the contract. I went to the police [i.e., El-Sisi], and the policeman arrested the engineer, [and then] took over the house and arrested me.[29] Ahead of this anniversary, a Twitter campaign for the ouster of El-Sisi was launched under the hashtag "Down with El-Sisi", which was shared hundreds of thousands of times within several days. A prominent figure who shared it was movie star Khaled Abu Al-Naga (aka Kal Naga), who called to "free Egypt from its military dictator" El-Sisi.[30]


Kal Naga's tweet

In a July 24 Facebook post, journalist 'Abd Al-Nasser Salama[31] harshly criticized El-Sisi, posing 10 challenging questions to the president and warning him that he might share the fate of leaders like Libya's Qaddafi and Yemen's 'Ali 'Abdallah Saleh, who were violently deposed. Among the questions he posed were "why do you not try to listen to the opinion of others?", "why do you consider yourself to be a prophet?", "why do you consider yourself to be an all-knowing physician or philosopher?" and "why don't you admit that you are afflicted with paranoia and chauvinism and seek treatment?"[32]

On July 28, addressing a youth conference at the University of Cairo, El-Sisi responded to the criticism against him on social media and even explicitly alluded to the hashtag calling for his ouster, saying: "We have been made into a needy and poor nation, and when I come to extract us from this situation, they launch a 'down with El-Sisi' hashtag. Should I not be angry? Of course I should."[33]


The president runs from the "down with El-Sisi" hashtag while pretending to be angry about it (Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, London, July 31, 2018)

Egyptian Writers Protest The Regime's Oppression

Not surprisingly, the Egyptian establishment media has refrained from criticizing the regime's crackdown on opposition elements; however, harsh criticism of this policy was voiced by Egyptian oppositionists in the international media and in media identified with Qatar, which is known for its hostility toward the El-Sisi regime. These writers accused El-Sisi of dashing all hope for actualizing the reforms or democratic change that the Egyptian people sought to achieve in 2011 when they ousted Mubarak. Milder criticism appeared in several editorials in independent Egyptian dailies such as Al-Misriyyoun and Al-Shurouq.

Alaa Al-Aswany: The Oppression In Egypt Is The Worst In Its History, But The Struggle For Democracy Will Continue

In a June 5, 2018 article in the Arabic section of the German website Deutsche Welle, renowned Egyptian writer Alaa Al-Aswany wrote that Egyptian society has become violent, that its people have lost their faith in the law and in justice, and that the majority of the public has given in to the limitations imposed by the regime, which applies the law as it pleases and takes action against anyone who poses a threat to it. Al-Aswany recalled with nostalgia the 2011 revolution and the joy that ensued after the ouster of Mubarak, and predicted that history would repeat itself. He wrote:

"There is no justice in Egypt today. The current regime does not permit any opinion that differs [from its own], and whoever criticizes El-Sisi is arrested and tried on false and vague charges such as dissemination of false information and membership in a banned organization. That's what happened to Hazem 'Abd Al-'Azim, Shadi Al-Ghazali Harb, Wael 'Abbas, and thousands of non-violent oppositionists. The El-Sisi regime treats all members of the opposition as traitors and agents whose purpose is to overthrow the regime...

"Ever since the army took control of Egypt in 1952, 'the law has been on holiday,' in the words of one of the [members of the] Free Officers [Movement].[34] The law is not applied to everyone in Egypt but only to some, at the whim of the regime. El-Sisi's opponents are arrested and persecuted, as a punishment for not being dazzled by the genius of the awe-inspiring leader...

"The arrests of El-Sisi's opponents all contravene the law and the constitution, but who would dare to protest against this and what use is protest against a regime that holds all the power and oppresses the people in a way that is unprecedented... in the history of modern Egypt[?]

"All this oppression is disguised by a torrent of lies spread by a vast propaganda apparatus on which the regime lavishes billions of Egyptian pounds, so as to beautify its oppressive aspects – but no matter how hard [it tries] to distract the Egyptians with stupid television series, with misleading political programs and with soccer, it cannot make them forget their daily suffering. The [already] difficult lives of millions of Egyptian poor have become [completely] unbearable due to the cost of living. Their silence is only the result of the oppression of the regime, which lies in wait to crush them the moment they express the slightest protest, as happened to those who objected to the rise of subway fares...

"The situation in our country is certainly bleak, but it need not plunge us into despair. History teaches us that revolution is not a 90-minute soccer game, but a lengthy [process] with ups and downs... When a revolution begins it is bound to continue... and be victorious, even if it takes a long time. Democracy is the solution."[35]

'Amr Hamzawy: Oppression Has Become The Ideology Of The Authoritarian Egyptian Regime

In a June 19, 2018 article in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily, oppositionist and former MP 'Amr Hamzawy wrote that El-Sisi's authoritarian regime is destroying Egypt, damaging the economy and undermining the people's faith in the state institutions, and sees oppression as a way of life, targeting the entire population. He wrote:

"The new authoritarian regime bears the primary responsibility for the threat to the stability and the security of Egypt and to its chances of recovering from the difficult economic and social situation [in which it finds itself]. This situation is the result of a policy of direct oppression (violent and excessive use of security measures) and indirect oppression (the passing of laws limiting freedoms), and is [also] the result of increasing violations of rights and freedoms on the part of state institutions and apparatuses. Such a policy, and the injustices that ensue, damage the peace among [sectors of] society and the people's confidence in the regime, and weaken it in the medium and long term.

"The new authoritarian regime systemically distorts the image of its opponents and request that lists be compiled of the enemies and terrorists among them, while disregarding the consequences this has on the rule of law and the citizens' sense of justice. The result is the shutting down of the public sphere and the annulment of politics... The result is denial [on the part of the regime] of the injustices and violations of human rights, and the silencing of those who defend human rights and demand democratic change...

"It comes as no surprise that certain official elements participate in urging collective punishment for regime opponents (and the most recent wave of arrests of oppositionists, such as Dr. 'Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futouh, attorney Haitham Mohamedeen, and Dr. Shadi Al-Ghazali Harb, is clear proof of this)...

"The new authoritarian regime in Egypt is advancing at an accelerated pace toward major reliance on the ability to repress, and on arrests and surveillance, not only of members of the opposition... but of all the people [in Egyptian society]. Oppression has become an official ideology; paranoia about 'hidden dangers and secret plots' has overcome the ruler and his helpers...

"While the crises of livelihood, economy, and society rage... it is difficult to expect the authoritarian regime to develop into the type of regime that accepts any kind of partnership with mainstream social and political forces or which opens up the public space and frees civil society of the war of annulment and the siege that [they] are currently [experiencing]. Allah preserve you, Egypt."[36]

Ahmad Maher: The Progressive World Is Reducing The Number Of Prisoners; In Egypt They Are Building New Detention Cells

Ahmad Maher, founder of the April 6 Movement, responded to the wave of arrests of liberal activists in a June 14 article in the Qatari daily Al-Arabi Al-Jadid which dealt with Egypt's general attitude towards incarceration. He claimed that the regime is not interested in alternatives to arresting people but is actually building more and more detention cells; moreover, Egyptian human rights activists fear that, if the regime does adopt such alternatives, it will use them against the activists. He wrote:

"Generally speaking, the Egyptian authorities do not regard the punishment [of incarceration] as a means of rehabilitation and do not regard the law as a means to impose order, but rather use them as tools of revenge, abuse and injustice. Many countries impose alternative penalties [instead of imprisonment] in order to diminish or eliminate [the use of] arrests and incarceration... But this issue arouses many apprehensions in Egypt, because all Egyptian laws have been phrased in such a way that the executive branch can violate them. Moreover, there is no political desire to reform, relieve or ease the crowded conditions in the prisons, or address the social problems caused by imprisonment. Otherwise there wouldn't have been such a terrifying number of prisons in Egypt, with new ones being built on a regular basis...

"The main point is the Egyptian regime's general view of political activity, and the degree of respect it has for plurality of opinion, freedom of opinion and expression or the need to maintain an opposition. Everyone knows that the Egyptian authorities can be quite tolerant of crimes such as murder, thuggery, weapons and drug trafficking, or theft of public lands. In fact, they seem to rely on such crimes to establish the regime, recruit voters and intimidate opponents. We have seen cases of murderers being pardoned... but criticizing the [regime's] policies or peacefully expressing a [different] opinion are regarded by the El-Sisi regime as grave crimes."[37]   


"Egyptian Security [Apparatuses] Persecute Social Media!!" (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, July 20, 2018)

Al-Misriyyoun Editor: As El-Sisi Enters His Second Term In Office, There Seems To Be Little Hope For Political Reform

Milder criticism was voiced in the independent Egyptian press. Gamal Sultan, editor of the Al-Misriyyoun daily, wrote on June 2 that he was deeply disappointed by El-Sisi's second inaugural speech, which he said contained nothing new. Moreover, he said, the president made unsubtle hints against pro-democracy activists, and his promises regarding pluralism and tolerance were at odds with the reality on the ground. Sultan wrote: "The most worrying aspect of the president's speech is what he said about freedoms, human rights, and the restoration of democracy. He alluded to those who 'trade in freedom and democracy,' which clearly indicates a very negative attitude [on his part] towards concepts that are fundamental to a democratic country. His claim that he believes in pluralism and in the right to be different was likewise unclear. He said: 'In the great and vast [land of] Egypt, there is room for all of us... I believe that any disagreement just makes us and our nation stronger, and I tell you that accepting the other and creating shared [public] spheres will be my primary concern... I do not exclude anyone from these shared [public] spheres except for those who chose violence, terror and extremist ideology as a means to impose their will and their control [upon others]. Egypt belongs to everyone and I am the president of all [Egyptians], both those who agree with me and those who do not.'  [But] the truth is that the security policy and the [policy of] exclusion in our country, which has been increasing recently, are at odds with all the general pronouncements made [by the president], and indicate that there is almost no room for dissidence and criticism, and that there is a very negative attitude towards pluralism and acceptance of the other and a desire to impose one perception and one way of thinking upon everyone.

"When the president says that he does not exclude anyone from the shared [public] space except whoever chose violence and terrorism [as a means] to impose his will and control, does [he mean to say that] Dr. Hazem 'Abd Al-'Azim, who was a pillar of El-Sisi's [own] election campaign in 2014, is one of those who employ violence and terrorism? Shadi Al-Ghazali Harb, Wael 'Abbas, Gamal 'Abd Al-Fattah and hundreds of other journalists and activists who have been arrested in the recent months – did they use violence and terror? And what about senior politicians like Dr. 'Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futouh, chairman of the Strong Egypt Party... [are they] terrorists who carry arms and must be arrested, abused and excluded from the [sphere of] pluralism, diversity and acceptance of the other?

"I yearned to discern a glimmer of hope for genuine political reform, a spark of [hope for] an economic plan that has some compassion for human beings who are being ground down by the poverty and price increases that the government itself is leading. But what we heard in [El-Sisi's] second presidential inaugural speech does not give rise to such hope... Perhaps my assessment is wrong; in fact, I hope it is wrong. Perhaps my understanding of the speech was a result of the despair that prevails these days. I hope this is the case."[38]

Al-Shurouq Editor: The Regime's Suppression Of Dissent May Lead To Its Downfall

In an article marking the anniversary of Morsi's June 30, 2013 ouster, 'Imad Al-Din Hussein, editor of the independent daily Al-Shurouq, warned the Egyptian regime that if it continues to disregard criticism and run the country as it pleases, it may meet the same fate as Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood (MB) administration: "The government, the state and all their apparatuses must learn an important lesson from the [events of] June 30, namely not to repeat the enormous mistakes of the MB, [mistakes] that caused the people to topple the MB administration even though they had elected it, giving it the majority of seats in parliament as well as the presidency. The government must examine its attitude towards criticism and commentary and towards the mistakes attributed to it by the forces of the national opposition. The worst thing [it can do is] repeat the mistakes of the MB, which believed that it possessed the absolute truth. [It also believed that] the June 30 demonstrators numbered no more than 150,000, and eventually woke up to discover 30 million protesters saying, 'go home, we don't want you.'"[39]  

Egyptian Researcher: It Is The Absence Of A Genuine Opposition That Exacerbates The Problem Of Rumor-Spreading

Dr. 'Amr Hashem Rabi', vice president of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, wrote in an article that, if the Egyptian regime wishes to combat the spreading of rumors that jeopardize its stability, it must allow opposition, freedom of speech and an independent judiciary, because it is their absence that exacerbates the problem of rumor-spreading. He wrote: "Fighting rumors is an important task of any respectable political system. The claim made recently, that 21,000 rumors that were spread in the country within a period of only three months, is certainly grave, for it means that 233 rumors were spread every day. This figure seems large and is probably an exaggeration, but it nevertheless seems to reflect a grave situation. Political systems that wish to combat rumors must take the first steps themselves by becoming a trusted source in the eyes of the people. In other words, it doesn't do to fight rumors while at the same time spreading rumors that increase the confusion, as is happening [now]... In order to fight rumors it is also important to open the public sphere to the public, so that news does not all come from a single source... The opposition, it seems, forms an important component in any political system by exposing corruption, monitoring the government and expressing a different opinion [as part of] any reforms...

"One of the factors that paralyze any social activity and turn rumors into shapers of opinion is the absence of a true opposition as an alternative to the current political system. Political systems are not army bases that depend on orders and obedience, but are comprehensive democratic systems anchored in inalienable human rights, which earn respect not only from their people but from the other countries around the world... What is certain is that the factors that strengthen genuine parties and an enlightened civil society, and eliminate the spreading of rumors in society, are the judiciary and the media.  I mean an independent judiciary, for this has a great impact on its rulings. As for the media, it must be objective and neutral. In other words, it must not be a mouthpiece of the regime or a mouthpiece of a banned terrorist organization [the MB] to the extent that it itself becomes a source or conduit of rumors..."[40]     

*Y. Graff is a research fellow at MEMRI.        

 

[1] On the regime's repression of potential presidential candidates prior to the election, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No.1380, Presidential Elections In Egypt – Part I: The Al-Sisi Regime's Brutal Crackdown On Potential Presidential Candidates, March 19, 2018.

[2] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), March 29, 2018.

[3] Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), April 11, 2018.

[4] Amal was arrested on May 12, 2018 for posting a video on social media in which she harshly criticized the state institutes. She was released on bail on June 19. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 12, 2018; Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 19, 2018.

[5] Al-Ahram (Egypt), May 16, 2018.

[6] Al-Tahrir (Egypt), May 19, 2018.

[7] Al-Ahram (Egypt), May 24, 2018; Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), May 28, 2018.

[8] Rassd.com, May 27, 2018; Al-Shurouq (Egypt), June 3, 2018.

[9] Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), May 24 and 28, 2018; Rassd.com, May 27, 2018.

[10] See for example, Hassan Nafa'a, political science lecturer at Cairo University, Raialyoum.com, May 30, 2018.

[11] See for example attorney and oppositionist 'Amro 'Abd Al-Hadi, Arabi21.com, May 27, 2018.

[12] Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), May 24, 2018; Al-Quds Al-Arabi , May 28, 2018; Arabi21.com, May 27, 2018.  See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No.1411, Egyptian President El-Sisi Regime Comes Under Harsh Criticism Against Backdrop Of Egypt's Economic Crisis, Price Increases,  August 9, 2018.

Egyptian President El-Sisi Regime Comes Under Harsh Criticism Against Backdrop Of Egypt's Economic Crisis, Price Increases

[13] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), May 12, 2018. The independent Al-Tahrir, founded after the toppling of the Mubarak regime in 2011, reported, for example, that Haitham  Mohamedeen was arrested for calling for protests against this increase. Al-Tahrir (Egypt), May 19, 2018. According to reports, Hazem 'Abd Al-'Azim called to boycott the Cairo subway. Attorney Samir Sabri, known for filing complaints against oppositionists, including against 'Abd Al-'Azim, stated that the latter's "explicit call to protest and demonstrate creates unrest and threatens the country's stability." Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), May 28, 2018.

[14] Reuters.com, May 24, 2018.

[15] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), May 31, 2018.

[16] Al-Ahram (Egypt), May 31, 2018.

[17] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), May 31, 2018.

[18] See e.g., a July 17, 2018 article by 'Ali Hashem in the government daily Al-Gumhouriyya.

[19] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 24, 2018.

[20] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), June 5, 2018.

[21] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 26, 2018. The report stated that in the last year 500 websites have been blocked in Egypt.

[22] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 10, 2018, July 17, 2018;  rassd.com, June 10, 2018; ara.reuters.com, July 17, 2018.

[23] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 16, 2018.

[24] Al-Watan (Egypt), July 15, 2018. The council members were joined in their objection by representatives of eight human rights organizations who supported them and likewise called to reconsider the new media laws. Al-Watan (Egypt), July 24, 2018.

[25] Arabi21.com, July 29, 2018.

[26] According to the report, the reason for Al-Fawzi's dismissal and exclusion was his refusal to humiliate former air force general Ahmed Shafik as part of the efforts to exclude the latter from the recent presidential race.  Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), August 1, 2018. The London-based daily Al-Arabi Al-Jadid reported on July 16, 2018 that, following Al-Fawzi's dismissal and the appointment of  'Abbas Kamel in his place, there was a reshuffle in the General Intelligence and all of Al-Fawzi's associates were replaced with associates of Kamel.

[27] According to 'Anan's associates he is hospitalized in serious condition and needs surgery to save his life. The associates held the military leadership responsible for his condition. Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), July 18, 2018; rassd.com, July 22, 2018. The Arabi21 website quoted sources as saying that the prison where he was detained had received orders to break him physically and mentally, as a warning to other officials who may be thinking of competing against El-Sisi.Arabi21.com, July 29, 2018. 

[28] Twitter.com/AlaaAswany, May 24, 2018.

[29] Twitter.com/AlaaAswany, July 2, 2018.

[30] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 23, 2018.

[31] Salama, who was editor of Al-Ahram during Morsi's presidency and until El-Sisi's election, was also silenced by the regime. In early April 2018, the Al-Masri Al-Yawm daily was compelled to stop publishing his articles, which were known for their criticism of the regime, as part of the administration's measures against the daily. Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), April 11, 2018.

[32] Facebook.com/abdalnassersalama.5, July 24, 2018.

[33] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), July 28, 2018.

[34] The Free Officers Movement seized control of Egypt in a July 23, 1952 military coup  and declared the country a "republic" – although it did not instate full democracy.

[35] Dw.com, June 5, 2018.

[36] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 19, 2018.

[37] Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), June 14, 2018.

[38] Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), June 2, 2018.

[39] Al-Shurouq (Egypt), July 1, 2018.

[40] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), August 13, 2018.