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: June 30, 2020

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Alexandria University

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Egypt

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 3, 2020, authorities reportedly arrested Alexandria University (AU) scholar Ahmed Tohamy Abdel-Hay.

Abdel-Hay is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Economic Studies and Political Science at AU and has authored books and papers on political movements in Egypt and articles critical of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. 

On June 3, Ssecurity forces reportedly arrested Abdel-Hay in his home and brought him to the state security headquarters in Cairo. On June 30, Abdel-Hay was brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution and ordered to remain in prison on charges of “joining a terrorist group, spreading false news and statements, and misusing social media.” The charges apparently stem from an investigation into Abdel-Hay’s alleged connection to Muhammad Sultan, an Egyptian-American activist, who filed a lawsuit in the US against former Prime Minister Hazem Al-Beblawy over mistreatment Sultan was subject to in Egyptian prisons from 2013 to 2015. 

Abdel-Hay has reportedly been denied access to his lawyer and was not permitted to see his family until October 2020. 

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest and prosecution of a scholar in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and association — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting expressive activity, so long as it is nonviolent and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, detentions intended to restrict nonviolent expressive activity undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.