Egypt’s Al-Sisi Regime Is Still “Disappearing” Researchers Who Oppose Its Crimes

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05/05/2021

It is three months since reproductive rights researcher Ahmed Samir Abdelhay Ali presented himself at the fifth district police station in central Cairo. He is still yet to be freed. Samir, a twenty-nine-year-old graduate student at Vienna’s Central European University, had traveled from the Austrian capital to Egypt for his school’s Christmas break, where he was stopped and interrogated by airport police at Sharm El Sheikh International Airport. According to sources close to the case, this was a frequent occurrence. But five weeks later, masked troops from the SWAT-like Central Security Forces entered Samir’s home without a warrant at 2 AM. Samir’s own academic work focuses on women’s rights in Egypt — specifically, the history of reproductive rights and current policies impacting access to reproductive health care. Rawda Elaskary, a close friend of Samir’s and a fellow student at Central European University, said that Samir may have been targeted for posting criticism of Egypt’s authoritarian government under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Samir was particularly vocal about gender and LGBT rights under the Sisi regime. He made a widely watched video after Sarah Hegazi, a queer feminist activist and a friend of Samir’s who had been similarly imprisoned in 2017, killed herself in June 2020. He criticized the government’s role in her death.

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