In an effort to address Egypt’s growing human rights crisis, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK), Be Magazine, and the Egyptians Abroad for Democracy organization organized a webinar titled “Behind the Dialogue: Confronting Egypt’s Escalating Human Rights Crisis” on June 16, 2023.
The virtual event, moderated by Melissa Turner, co-founder and co-editor of Be Magazine, featured a diverse panel of activists, scholars, journalists, and creatives. Speakers included Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center, Dr. Maha Azzam, head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council, Dina Sadek, Mideast Research Fellow at the Digital Forensic Research Lab, Abdelrahman ElGendy, an Egyptian writer and activist, Amr Waked, an Egyptian actor, Ramy Shaath, an Egyptian-Palestinian rights activist, Mohamed Ismail, director of Egyptians Abroad For Democracy, Missy Crutchfield, co-founder and co-editor of Be Magazine, and Albane de Rochebrune, a French journalist.
During the webinar, the panellists shared their personal experiences and insights into the human rights situation in Egypt. Ramy Shaath, a long-time human rights defender, and Abdelrahman ElGendy, who experienced six years of imprisonment, highlighted the stories of political prisoners and their struggle for freedom. Amr Waked, an actor and activist, emphasized the need to challenge the false narrative that portrays Egyptians as a threat to regional stability.
Sarah Leah Whitson expressed scepticism about the national dialogue initiated by President Abdelfattah El-Sisi, cautioning against its potential to serve as a facade for cosmetic changes. Sara Flounders emphasized the power of collective voices and the impact of international pressure. Dr. Maha Azzam criticized the regime’s tactics of using dialogues and human rights strategies to appease Western critics without implementing meaningful reforms.
Missy Crutchfield emphasized the importance of mobilizing young people and uniting diverse causes under the banner of human rights. Mohamed Ismail stressed the need to exert pressure on the Egyptian government through various means, including engaging with policymakers and advocating for genuine democratic reforms.
Dina Sadek highlighted the manipulation of narratives by the Egyptian government, including the use of social media to create false perceptions of support and coordinated attacks against fact-checkers and human rights defenders. Albane de Rochebrune expressed disappointment with the way Western media reports on Egypt’s national dialogue and called for transparency and accountability in foreign affairs and defense.
The speakers collectively called for an end to the international community’s complicity in the human rights crisis in Egypt. They emphasized the importance of challenging El-Sisi’s narratives and standing in solidarity with the people of Egypt to achieve genuine stability and peace in the region.
The webinar provided a platform for these perspectives and highlighted the ongoing efforts to address the human rights crisis in Egypt. It underscored the importance of international solidarity and concerted action in advocating for justice and human rights in the country.