Target: Prime Minister of Egypt Sherif Ismail
Goal: Secure the immediate release of Mahmoud Hussein and his brothers.
Egyptian authorities have arrested Mahmoud Hussein, a producer for Al Jazeera. He is charged with attempting to overthrow the government and membership in the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Earlier the same week, authorities detained Mr. Hussein for 15 hours and reportedly confiscated his passport. Egyptian security forces have also detained Mr. Hussein’s two brothers.
According to the pro-government media outlet Al-Bawaba, the charges stem from videos made without state permission which ‘distorted the efforts of the state and incited against the regime.’ This may relate to a recent Al Jazeera documentary on military conscription in Egypt which received criticism from the Egyptian governmental institutions as well as supporters of the army. Since the 2013 removal of President Morsi, the Egyptian government has arrested and charged a number of Al Jazeera employees, either alleging links to the Muslim Brotherhood or accusing journalists of spreading ‘false news.’
The arrest of Mahmoud Hussein comes amidst a crackdown on Egyptian civil society which has seen the arrest of numerous human rights activists, lawyers, and advocates. Many have been accused of sedition, rebellion, or otherwise undermining the government. If left unchallenged, these acts will smother journalism in Egypt, making it almost impossible to hold the government to account for its actions. Sign our petition and demand the immediate release of Mahmoud Hussein and his brothers.
Dear Prime Minister Ismail,
I was alarmed to read of the arrest of Al Jazeera producer Mahmoud Hussein on charges of attempting to overthrow your government and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. While I recognize that the security situation in Egypt is of paramount concern, in the past year dozens of journalists, human rights activists, and lawyers have been accused of similar crimes, raising concerns about the state of freedom of assembly, expression, and press in Egypt.
Mr. Hussein is the latest in a number of Al Jazeera employees who have been arrested and charged in Egypt. As in previous cases, as an employee of a media organization and a journalist, Mahmoud Hussein’s speech and person are protected by international law. According to Al-Bawaba, the charges against Mahmoud Hussein stem from his part in the creation of videos that ‘distorted the efforts of the state.’ However, the creation of said videos is protected under the freedom of the press and freedom of expression. I urge you to secure the immediate release of Mahmoud Hussein and his brothers.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: John Englart