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 22, 2014

Attack Types: Prosecution

Institution(s):The American University in Cairo

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Egypt

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Dr. Emad Shahin, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo has been charged with several criminal counts, including espionage and conspiring to undermine national security. 
In a criminal complaint released on Wednesday, January 22, 2014, Professor Shahin, was charged along with three dozen defendants, many of whom were associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.  According to the professor, the charges against him include “espionage, leading an illegal organization, providing a banned organization with information and financial support, calling for the suspension of the constitution, preventing state institutions and authorities from performing their functions, harming national unity and social harmony, and causing to change the government by force.”
Professor Shahin has been publicly critical of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as of the crackdown against them following Morsi’s ouster.  In a statement, Professor Shahin described himself as “an advocate for democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and a fervent supporter of the main objectives of the January 25 revolution in Egypt, namely freedom, dignity, and social justice.”  He categorically denied all of the charges against him, and stated that he has never been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, nor provided the Muslim Brotherhood with material or financial support of any kind.  Professor Shahin went on to state that “I have been critical of the course of political events in Egypt since last summer and can only conclude that such criticism—entirely restricted to word and utterly unconnected to any organized group, faction, or party—is my true offense.”
Professor Shahin was traveling abroad when he learned of the charges against him. 
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the prosecution of a scholar in apparent retaliation 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.  
Scholars at Risk respectfully urges Egyptian authorities to explain publicly the basis for the charges against Professor Shahin, to ensure that any charges are not grounded in conduct protected by internationally recognized human rights standards, and to ensure that remaining proceedings, if any, take place in a manner consistent with Egypt’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, transparency, fair trial, free expression and freedom of association.