Egyptian authorities are stepping up their crackdown against civil society and human rights organizations. On March 20th, Nazra for Feminist Studies confirmed it has been summoned as part of an official interrogation by the Egyptian government targeting civil society organizations. In a statement published by our sisters at Nazra for Feminist Studies, the leading women’s group confirmed that they have been included in an official interrogation in case 173, known as the “cases of foreign funding for civil organizations in Egypt”, and that three staff members received official summons for interrogation as well.
“The investigation with Nazra comes within the frame of taking escalating steps to close the public space by conducting a crackdown on independent civil society organizations in different ways, ranging from inclusion of several organizations in interrogations, to travel bans, summoning of organizations’ staff members, and visits of inspection committees to some organizations,” explained the statement issued by Nazra for Feminist Studies on Sunday.
The latest in a string of harassment and attempts to shutdown civil society organizations—following the Egyptian government’s attempt to close El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence and Torture last month—this new crackdown comes at a time where representatives of governments, United Nations entities, and women’s groups and civil society organizations from all regions of the world are meeting in New York at the 60th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to advocate for a greater focus on women’s rights in the context of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals. At CSW, one of the key conversations has been the shrinking spaces for women human rights defenders and the various attacks to which they are subjected by state and non-state actors.
“The Egyptian government’s attempts to stop women human rights defenders and restrict the critical work of Nazra to end sexual violence and advance gender equality in Egypt will not go unnoticed,” said Zahra Vieneuve, Program Officer for the Middle East and North Africa at Global Fund for Women. “Let’s show Egyptian authorities that the more they try to silence women human rights defenders, the more strongly we will resist the erosion of space for women’s human rights work.”
Founded in Cairo in December 2007, Nazra for Feminist Studies is a prominent women’s rights organization whose efforts to strengthen the Egyptian feminist movement and integrate feminism and gender awareness into politics and society has had a crucial impact on women’s rights organizing and actions in Egypt as well as throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Led by Global Fund for Women’s Board Member, Mozn Hassan, the group has taken leading roles and positions in defending women’s human rights, combating sexual violence, supporting young women to run for official political roles, and educating a new generation of young feminists.
“At the same time Egypt is saying that women’s issues are a priority, they are trying to stigmatize a feminist group working hard on sexual violence and political participation for women by including them in the case of foreign funding,” explains Mozn Hassan of the current situation in Egypt. “This case might escalate to a prison sentence against me, as the founder and executive director of Nazra for Feminist Studies.”
Global Fund for Women calls on the Egyptian authorities to withdraw all investigations and cases targeting Nazra for Feminist Studies, and to put an end to all forms of harassment against human rights defenders in Egypt.
We encourage our community around the world to join us in demanding this order against Nazra be withdrawn immediately. Contact Egyptian embassies and consulates to demand they put an end to all forms of harassment against Nazra. Contact your own government representatives and demand that they ask this of their missions in Egypt. Express solidarity with women human rights defenders in Egypt on social media, where expressions of support for Nazra have been pouring in—showing the impact of the organization’s work on young women throughout Egypt and beyond. As one Twitter user put it: “Nazra is the best thing that has happened to me.”
Raise your voice to make sure the international community cannot ignore this news, and show your solidarity using the following hashtags: