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Christian activist facing terror-related charges in Egypt

by Tola Mbakwe

Religious freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said the police who arrested Rami Kamil refused to allow him to change his clothes, carry his medications or speak to a lawyer. They also confiscated his laptop, mobile phone and camera and books after the raids in the early hours of 23rd November.

Following his arrest, Mr Kamil, 33, was taken to an unknown location, where he went through intensive interrogation and was subjected to physical and psychological pressure, according to CSW.

He later appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) without legal representation, and was given 15 days in pre-trial detention.

Mr Kamil was accused of joining a terrorist organisation, receiving foreign funding, disturbing public order, inciting the public against the state, and using social media to incite sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians.

Kamil is a prominent human rights activist, he is a founding member and the coordinator of a Coptic human rights group called Maspero Youth Union. The organisation emerged following the Maspero massacre of October 2011, in which over 20 Coptic protesters were killed when the Egyptian military attacked a peaceful civil rights demonstration.

CSW said the arrest happened a few days after Mr Kamil accompanied the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, on a fact-finding visit to Cairo and Minya to investigate the situation of members of the Coptic community who had been displaced from their homes following sectarian incidents.

It also comes days after Egypt's human rights record was examined by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), where it received the highest number of recommendations since their Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2010.
 CSW's chief executive Mervyn Thomas has condemned the arrest and mistreatment of Mr Kamil.

"The charges against him are excessive, and his arrest lacks legal transparency," he said.

"Rather than effectively criminalising peaceful human rights work, the Egyptian government should focus instead on upholding the right to freedom of religion or belief and assisting citizens who have been displaced by sectarian violence, while continuing to identify and counter genuine sources of terror."

Thomas urged the Egyptian government to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Kamil. He also demanded that others who are currently detained on account of their efforts to improve human rights and advance the fundamental freedoms of their fellow citizens.

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