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Hisba lawsuits filed against two more critics

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said that the weak stance of the Egyptian government regarding the swarm of Hisba cases against writers and reporters has resulted in Hisba cases gaining more ground and extending their reach to human rights activists and civil society advocates.

The most recent of these cases was filed against government critic Nawal El Saadawi after her call to found a "Solidarity Group For Civil Society In Egypt." Another case was filed against Naguib Sawiris, a well-known businessman, after he criticized the second article of the Egyptian constitution, stipulating that "the Islamic law is a major legislation resource." Both Saadawi and Sawiris are accused of inciting contempt of the Islamic religion.

According to ANHRI, the feeble reaction of the Egyptian government when faced with political and religious Hisba cases has encouraged more citizens and lawyers to file hundreds of cases against writers, reporters and activists, aimed at gaining publicity or the government's attention.

These illegal cases are becoming a threat over the heads of all intellectuals in Egypt. Instead of conducting an open, reasonable dialogue based on intellectuals opinions, Hisba experts would rather start the legal chase and a chain of lawsuits against those intellectuals.

It is noteworthy that some of these cases were accepted in Egyptian courts, thereby violating the law which stipulates the existence of a legal status or interest from the prosecution in order for a case to be admitted in court.

"Every citizen has the right to file a complaint. This is acceptable. Yet it is not conceivable that the prosecution should accept just any complaint and start legal proceedings, and the court should agree to conduct trials in such cases, even though just cause is usually lacking. The latest case in particular is quite alarming, as the prosecutor is Niazr Ghorab, an Islamic fundamentalist, whereas the defendant is a Christian Egyptian, Naguib Sawiris," said ANHRI.

ANHRI added, "We would not be surprised to learn that the Egyptian government is behind the case against Nawal El Saadawi, which was filed right after she came home after a long stay abroad. Saadawi's criticism of the Egyptian regime and her advocating for a civil state is very irritating to the Egyptian government."

ANHRI warns again of the enormous threat to freedom of expression in Egypt, which is becoming monstrous, willing to engulf every new opinion and different thought.

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