Punitive Measures and Abandonment Faced by Conscientious Objectors in Egypt

I am posting this because I was asked several times recently about the consequences of failing to or refusing to do a military service in Egypt.

Mohamed Fathy helped me make this report.

The Egyptian national service law states that the males of the age of 18 till the age of 30, must be compulsorily recruited in the Egyptian armed forces, unless they are the only male son for their parents or if they were medically unfit. Sometimes the oldest male brother is temporarily exempt if his father reached the age of retirement. The military does not always give the medically unfit their right in exemption and recruits them, which leads to some ending dead or terribly injured and independent legal investigation is banned.

The military service is temporarily postponed for males after finishing high school if they studied in a university or an institute, but after finishing, they have to be recruited.

If for any reason, someone didn’t enlist in the army, he won’t have the military certificate which is always required to work, to make post-graduate studies, to make a passport, to travel abroad and from holding official positions. Practically ending one’s future, in other words: social death!

By not doing the military service, you would be legally considered a felon and this felon would be kept in your government records till the age of 42.

The one would be subjected to arrest and imprisonment, when the military or police checkpoints inspect his information by the name on the national identification card. By the law, the army can arrest and imprison the person from his home. Prison sentence can extend to 3 years in addition to a fine that can extend to 5000 Egyptian pounds. After that, the person would still be forced to do the military service and if he refused again, he may be imprisoned again and again.

When a recruit or an objector faces violations, the media is legally banned from raising the issue before taking permission from the Intelligence Agency, as these are considered military secrets. So, normally, the issue won’t be raised and the case won’t be known.

In the army camps, Islamic clerics are brought to make Islamic preachings and militarists themselves do the same. Contrary to the claims by the media and analysts who always claim that the military establishment is a secular entity and that its leaders are secular. This establishment highly discriminates based on religious and sect affiliations.

Conscientious objectors have no legal aid, as all the human rights organizations along with law personnel ignore us and won’t give us advices. All of the information we reach is by our extended efforts to do research.

There was a failed lawsuit in the State Council against the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Justice, by their positions. The lawsuit was against illegally banning university students from traveling in the last academic year.

For me, the only way I may be able to regain part of my basic rights is after reaching the age of 30, after agreeing to be militarily tried, which I refuse. Then the military judge has the will to fine me and imprison me for three years, or choose one of the two penalties. But still, I would be banned for the rest of my life from holding official positions.

In another case, if you were nominated to be recruited as a soldier for one year, you would have to wait till the age of 36, and also when you refuse to be militarily tried. After finishing the recruitment phase, they become in the reserve forces and the army can call them up till the age of 35.

If you were a male and wanted to be hired in Egypt, you must have a military certificate, stating that you were exempt, finished the military service or have a 3-year postponement and in the last case you won’t be able to work after that period. Longer reserve periods apply which would make the nominated military officer be in the reserve till the age of 45.

Finally, if you were dishonorably discharged of the military and had a military certificate stating that you were bad, you won’t be able to have a job with it.

See also:
* My conscientious objection declaration
* Mohamed Fathy’s conscientious objection declaration
* Conscientious Objection announcement of Amir Eid (2016-10-15)

Egypt’s Official Religious Institution Promotes Torture

Azhar is the state’s official religious institution of Egypt. Since it is the state’s religious institution, its stances echo the state’s.

In a review made by the Seventh Day newspaper, it mentioned that Nasr Farid Wasel, an ex-Azhar expounder, issued a fatwa that the violence of the Muslims Brotherhood deserves death or crucifixion!

I thought that humanity has overcome the times of the extreme torture and mutilation as punishments, and that the justice system aims at rehabilitation.

Cairo Public Buses with Wi-Fi

As of 2017, the buses are as neglected as other public transportation and without a working air-conditioner and often with no Wi-Fi, yet are charged for 3 Egyptian pounds!

A new limited number of mini-buses that are aimed to be used for public transportation in Cairo province, was unveiled today. The decision was announced 2 months ago and the project was funded by a loan from the World Bank and it was said that the buses would be operational starting from June 2014, but they are now available to ride as of today. What’s different about these buses is that they would have an open-access internet connection (open Wi-Fi), allowing riders to connect to it wirelessly. They also have a screen inside with an automated announcement of the current and the next bus station, with GPS coordination updating its location information every 2 minutes, in order for riders to check online the time it would take the nearest bus to arrive and for the monitored network to remotely inform the bus driver to take the route of a specific line as needed. It also has the number of its line and main station names on an external LED screen, which has been available for almost 2 years in a limited number of other public non-air-conditioned buses.

However, the problem with the open Wi-Fi is that they are easier to spy on, which would even more threat the already threatened privacy in Egypt. We don’t need Wi-Fi in public transportation, we need the mobile networks to fairly charge us and provide us better services, because we pay them extremely too much and get extremely little!

It is still unknown how much their ticket would cost (2014/1/1 Update: Their ticket costs 3 Egyptian pounds; 2014/3/25 Update: I was told by a rider that it was reduced to 2 and a half Egyptian pounds), but it would be printed instantly on a tiny paper as the bills in restaurants are. The bill would have the name of the driver, numbers of the bus line and the bus plate number. You would have the option to pay with a magnetic card that is purchased when you make a subscription.

As of 2013, the air-conditioned buses are rare and cost 2 Egyptian pounds, which is quite expensive to the salaries of most Egyptians to ride everyday. Most of the supposedly air-conditioned buses need to be fixed and their air-conditioning system is always broken! They lack regular maintenance!

The whole public transportation system which includes the rapid transit (metro), need to be greatly enhanced and have air-conditioning in summer, because riding them is extremely tiring of the extreme heat, the bad ventilation (particularly in the rapid transit) and the extreme over-crowding! Streets and transportation are always extremely over-crowded most of the day. Egyptians drive chaotically and the circumstances generally perpetuate these problems. Some streets have no space for the micro-buses to stop and that makes them block streets to allow passengers to go out or get in.

I am always happy for any development, but I personally may never ride these buses because, as I explained, the streets are always over-crowded and I try to ride the metro in part of my journey, because it does not get stuck as much as other means of transportation in traffic congestions. Additionally, I may not benefit of these buses because it is obvious that they would have limited lines and if you are living in Greater Cairo, you would understand that you don’t always choose what to ride or when, because if you do, you would be more late than you would already be for work or whatever you would plan to do!

See also:
* Grande-école.net: Cote d’Ivoire witnesses the first electronic buses for short distances (see picture; 2013/11/4)

Commentary on “Revolutionary Egypt: The Worst of Times, the Best of Times”

Even though the article is long enough and would have been much longer, I couldn’t stop myself from commenting on it and I’m very glad the discussion was opened. I believe that debating always helps humans discover new ideas and solutions.

First of all, yes I agree that debating Egypt politics nowadays has become over-simplified to “the army versus the Muslim Brotherhood” narrative. That’s a counter-productive political tragedy!

Does neoliberal capitalist mean to keep the army and the intelligence in control of 40% of the economy, having forced military recruits in forced labor camps doing things unrelated to military training for the benefit of the army leaders’ economic interests? Morsi’s government was not capitalist! They were just sharing the power with the military establishment.
The Muslim Brotherhood was supported by the US and possibly its allies, as it succeeded in lobbying to convince them that it’s better for keeping international interests, peace and stability in Egypt, when those who are regarded as opposition were consistently making racist narratives and calling for an end of peace with Israel.

By the way, the Muslim Brotherhood is able to feed the poor and have its social programs because they have economic empires and also collect money from charity, so you pay for charity only for that money to be in the free will of the Muslim Brotherhood, apart from the money laundry they are consistently engaged in. 🙂
If you don’t appeal enough to the state (the intelligence and the army) or if they felt that you are independent enough, they won’t let you become economically powerful. That explains why it’s either the Muslim Brotherhood or the 1952-militarist-state-loyalists are the influential ones in politics.

It is imprecise to describe the political era before Morsi as “the previous Mubarak military dictatorship”, because it implies that Mubarak established a military dictatorship and that it ended after Morsi was given office, when the army officers of the year 1952 were the ones who established the military dictatorship which is still in control.

Mixing violence with quasi-civil disobedience is not new. It’s the all-time political game of Islamists. It’s done at Egypt borders, in Gaza and the West Bank. The difference is, it is always believed when it is against Israel or its interests, but it was fortunately not believed very much when it happened in Egypt.

Finally, I’m always cautious about the high risk from misguided masses to help make a political situation much worse than what they already have had. Take the 20th century Russian model as an example. I realized that some intellectuals, especially revolutionary/liberation intellectuals, locally or globally, have suspicious relations with secret services, they are recruited to create an intellectual atmosphere of misguidance to misguide opinion leaders who in turn misguide the masses, the case which only serves the purposes of authoritarian people and entities.

See also:
* Emad el Dafrawi: Deviation from the Revolution (2011/05/16)

Update on Objecting Military Service تحديث بخصوص الاعتراض على الخدمة العسكرية

Today, 2013/7/25, I sent letters to the current officials of Egypt: the Minister of Defense Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, the acting President of the republic Adly Mansour, the acting Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei and the interim Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi.

That makes it the second time since I sent letters to the officials in 2012/4/12, asking for my right to conscientious objection.

اليوم, 2013/7/25, أرسلت جوابات إلى المسئولين الحاليين فى مصر: وزير الدفاع عبد الفتاح السيسى, رئيس الجمهورية للفترة الانتقالية عدلى منصور, نائب الرئيس محمد البرادعى و رئيس الوزراء المؤقت حازم الببلاوى.

و بذلك تصبح المرة الثانية التى أرسل فيها جوابات إلى المسئولين منذ 2012/4/12, مطالبا بحقى بالاعتراض الضميرى.

Minister of Defense - el Sisi 2013-7-25 - 1

Minister of Defense - el Sisi 2013-7-25 - 2

President - Adly Mansour 2013-7-25 - 1

President - Adly Mansour 2013-7-25 - 2

Vice President - el Baradei 2013-7-25 - 1

Vice President - el Baradei 2013-7-25 - 2

Prime Minister - Hazem el Beblawi 2013-7-25 - 1

Prime Minister - Hazem el Beblawi 2013-7-25 - 2