Since the January 2011 Revolution, Egyptian human rights conditions have been shaped by three successive governments: the government of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) between February 2011 and June 2012, the elected President Muhammad Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood (June 2012 to July 2013), and the current administration of the former Minister of Defense, now President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who assumed power after the coup of July 3, 2013. With varying degrees of police brutality and abuse, all three governments relied on human rights violations to sustain their power. In todays Egypt, human rights violations have reached unprecedented levels.
The currently ruling military establishment is invested in restoring the autocratic continuity that was challenged in 2011. To do so, a new authoritarian doctrine is being introduced. Within the state apparatus, the military and security services are empowered to fully control civil society with little oversight. Undemocratic constitutional amendments and laws are being used to rescind established notions of the rule of law, thereby reducing trust in the impartiality of public institutions. Vague, broad language in new and amended laws - such as the Protest Law, NGO Law, Penal Code, Terrorism Law, and Military Court Law - is enabling the regime to arbitrarily prohibit or criminalize activities without definition, make accusations of terrorism without legal restraint, and transfer civilians to military courts. With legal backing, scare tactics and police brutality are being used regularly to deprive citizens of their freedoms of expression and association.
Facing this new authoritarian doctrine, four forms of democratic platforms have shaped social activism in Egypt: (1) single-cause initiatives that are opposing specific human rights abuses and advocating for the rights and freedoms of the victims, (2) professional associations that are defending freedoms of expression and association, (3) student groups that are challenging the systematic interference by the security services in their affairs and the constant presence of security forces on campuses, and (4) the labor movement, which is being galvanized by deteriorating economic and social conditions and by the governments repression of labor activists. In addition, spontaneous eruptions of popular anger in response to human rights abuses have become politically significant.
Egypts new authoritarian regime - as part of closing the public space and cracking down on civil society and opposition political parties - has tried to manage these forms of social activism through repression, undemocratic legal frameworks, and aggressive judicial tools. It has intensified its efforts to intimidate professional associations, student groups, and labor activists. And it has expanded its targets to include young human rights advocates and citizens who have publicly stood against police brutality. Nothing has highlighted this fact better than the large number of young activists and students detained and arrested, as well as the systematic referral of protesting workers to military trials.
Hamzawy, Amr (
Can Egypt's democratic hopes be revived?
Hamzawy, Amr (
Fuga dall'Egitto : inchiesta sulla diaspora del dopo-golpe Afriche ; 8
Hamzawy, Amr (
Legislating authoritarianism : Egypt's new era of repression Papers ; 302
Demokratie in Ägypten - toter Baum oder keimende Saat?
Social Activism and Authoritarian Politics in Contemporary Egypt