State Security Court Orders Interior Ministry to Release Shi’ite Detainee... EIPR Calls for the Release of All Shi’ite Citizens, Asks Public Prosecutor to Investigate the Torture of One Detained Shi’ite

Press Release

29 July 2010

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) today called upon the Interior Ministry to immediately release Mohamed Farouq Mohamed al-Sayyed and seven other Shi’ite citizens who have been detained arbitrarily for more than a year. The call follows a decision by the Supreme (Emergency) State Security Court on 28 July overturning an administrative detention order issued against al-Sayyed, who was detained because of his affiliation with the Shi’ite confession. The detention order for al-Sayyed and the other seven detainees was renewed last month despite the legal modifications introduced to the application of the state of emergency.

The EIPR also urged the Public Prosecutor to investigate a complaint it filed against the Minister of Interior regarding the unlawful detention of Mohamed Farouq, the issuance of several arbitrary detention orders against him and his torture inside a State Security Investigations (SSI) headquarters in Sixth of October governorate in June 2010.

“Renewing the detention of Egyptian citizens whose only crime is belonging to the Shi’ite confession is yet further clear proof of the falsity of government claims that the Emergency Law is applied only in cases of terrorism and drug trafficking,” said Adel Ramadan, the EIPR’s Legal Officer. “Detaining citizens simply because they follow a certain creed is not only a violation of the Emergency Law, it shows utter disregard for constitutional provisions that uphold the right of every citizen to hold whatever beliefs he wishes.”

The Interior Ministry detained Mohamed Farouq and 11 others because of their affiliation with the Shi’ite confession in April and May 2009, as part of what was dubbed the Hassan Shehata Group case. In June 2009, the Supreme State Security Prosecutor questioned the suspects in the case (no. 624/2009) on charges of forming an organization for the purpose of propagating Shi’ite ideas that harm Islam and Sunni confessions. The prosecutor issued an order releasing all 12 suspects in October 2009, but the Ministry of Interior renewed the detention of eight of the suspects. Although the State Security Court has issued several release orders for the remaining detainees, the Interior Ministry has refused to implement them.

Moreover, Presidential Decree 126/2010, which went into effect on 1 June 2010, specifically limited the purview of provisions in the Emergency Law to terrorism and drug trafficking cases. Despite this, the Interior Ministry persisted in violating the law and issued a new detention order for Mohamed Farouq on 9 June 2010, a copy of which was obtained by the EIPR, and even after the State Security Court ordered his release.

From 10 to 13 June 2010, Mohamed Farouq was detained in SSI headquarters in Sixth of October governorate, where he was beaten and verbally abused. He was transferred to the Damanhour General Prison on 14 June, where he remains imprisoned with the other detainees. Lawyers with the EIPR filed a appeal against the new detention order (no. 3155/2010), and the Supreme State Security Court heard the appeal yesterday, after which it issued a final ruling overturning the detention order and requiring the Minister of Interior to release the detainee. EIPR lawyers also filed complaint no. 12907/2010 to the Public Prosecutor on 7 July accusing State Security officers in Sixth of October City of illegally detaining Mohamed Farouq, torturing him and issuing arbitrary detention orders. Thus far, no investigation into the complaint has been opened.

Hossam Bahgat, the Executive Director of the EIPR, said, “The case of Mohamed Farouq and the continued detention of seven other Shi’ite citizens reveals the government’s continued violation of commitments made before the UN Human Right Council in Geneva, where it pledged to stop violating citizens’ right to freedom of religion and belief. The security apparatus continues to detain and torture those with minority religious beliefs without any sort of accountability.”