'Chilling escalation'

Feminist activist allegedly taken from her home by security forces in Egypt

Azza Soliman (Amnesty International).

Azza Soliman, the founder of the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), has allegedly been arrested in Egypt as part of what human rights organizations are calling a “chilling escalation” of the Egyptian government’s adversarial stance toward civil society organizations.

Soliman, who is said to be one of a number of human rights workers to be prevented from leaving Egypt during the past month, was turned away from Cairo airport on November 19. Her personal assets, and those of her organization, were subsequently frozen. According to CEWLA, on Wednesday, Soliman was taken from her house by security forces and spirited away to a Cairo police station.

The government has not commented on the case — not even to say whether or if Soliman was facing charges — but several NGOs have been accused by the Egyptian government of being paid by foreign countries to incite chaos and disorder. The spiriting away of Soliman from her home, however, has activists wondering if the worst is to come — according to Dalia Abdel-Hamid, a women’s rights activist working for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

“Why would they arrest her from her house?” asked Abdel-Hamid, noting that other activists accused of receiving “illegal” foreign funding were never taken from their homes. “This is an aggressive step up from what has happened previously. We don’t know what this will mean or what the repercussions of this will be.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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