SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: January 19, 2014

Attack Types: Prosecution

Institution(s):Cairo University

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Egypt

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Dr. Amr Hamzawy, a professor of political science at Cairo University and of public policy at the American University in Cairo, was charged with insulting the judiciary after posting a message on Twitter that criticized an Egyptian court ruling against civil society organizations. 
In June 2013, an Egyptian judge convicted 43 employees of Western-backed civil society groups, including the National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, and Freedom House, among others, of receiving illegal foreign funds, and working to “undermine Egypt’s national security and lay out a sectarian, political map that serves United States and Israeli interests.”  Following the verdict, Dr. Hamzawy tweeted: “Verdict in case of foreign funding of CS [referring to civil society] shocking, transparency lacking, facts undocumented & politicization evident.”  On January 19, 2014, Dr. Hamzawy, a professor and former secularist member of parliament, was charged along with some two dozen others from across the political spectrum, including former President Mohammed Morsi, with the crime of insulting the judiciary based on various comments made by each.  The charge carries a potential sentence of up to three years in jail.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the prosecution of a scholar for nonviolent, expressive activity which is related to his professional expertise and protected by internationally recognized human rights standards.  State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with scholars’ expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly.  Prosecution aimed at limiting such expressive activity undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.