Press Release

August 12, 1997

CHRLA calls for the release of the defendants in the Muslim Brotherhood case

CHRLA expresses its concern over the arrest of at least 34 people and their subjection to questioning by the Higher State Security Prosecutor since the day before yesterday. The defendants are accused of belonging to an illegal organization—the Muslim Brotherhood—possessing printed material which promotes the ideas of that organization, involving students in political activities, opposing state institutions and the Constitution, and harming national unity and social peace. The Higher State Security Public Prosecutor ordered the detention of all the accused for a period of 15 days for questioning.

CHRLA notes that during the interrogation sessions attended by a CHRLA lawyer, the charges against the defendants in no way refer to their involvement in violent activities. Neither does the printed material seized from their possession by the authorities appear to call for the use of violence in spreading and promoting their ideas. CHRLA therefore believes that these individuals have done little more than practice their legitimate rights to peaceful assembly, to form an organization or be a member of an organization, to hold their own views and ideas, and to promote their ideas via peaceful means. All these rights are guaranteed by a number of articles in the Egyptian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the Egyptian government in 1982.

In this regard, CHRLA calls on the Egyptian authorities to guarantee the immediate release of these individuals and to limit the use of preventive detention as a tool in limiting political freedom and in punishing political opponents unless their activities are not peaceful. CHRLA calls on civil society, particularly the human rights movement, to exert efforts to get the Egyptian legislative powers to carry out a review of all legislation concerning the freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, formation of political parties and organizations. in order that it is in line with the principles of the Constitution and the international covenants signed by the Egyptian government.

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