Democracy ALERT: Egypt’s policy of repression against free expression continues

August 22, 2023

On August 20, 2023, prominent publisher and democracy advocate, Hisham Kassem was arrested by the Egyptian authorities. Mr. Kassem was summoned to testify in a defamation case filed against him by the former Minister of Manpower, Kamal Abu Eita, accusing Mr. Kassem of insult and slander. After refusing to pay bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds, Mr. Kassem was referred to al-Sayeda Zeinab police station to be taken into custody. Mr. Kassem currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Free Movement in Egypt. Previously, Mr. Kassem served as the publisher of Al-Masry Al-Youm (known in English as “Egypt Independent”), an independent newspaper in Egypt, and was also a member of the World Movement for Democracy’s Steering Committee.

Mr. Kassem is not the only independent journalist who has recently experienced repression in Egypt after questioning Egyptian authorities. On August 19, 2023, Karim Asaad, a member of the editorial team of the fact-checking platform Matsda2sh, was arrested for being part of an investigation that implicates senior Egyptian officials in corruption. Security forces dressed in civilian clothes stormed Mr. Assad’s home and threatened his family. With support from the Syndicate of Journalists, and human rights defenders, Mr. Asaad was released on August 20. The arrests of Hisham Kassem and Karim Asaad exemplify Egypt’s policy of repression against freedom of expression. Egypt continues to be one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists, with at least 19 journalists in prison as of August 21, according to Reporters Without Borders.

The World Movement for Democracy urges the Egyptian Authorities to allow investigative journalists and fact-checkers to do their work freely without harassment and interference, respecting people’s right to freedom of expression.