Egyptians highlight human rights abuses as government campaign backfires

A campaign launched by the Egyptian government to promote the World Youth Forum scheduled for Nov. 4-10 at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh appears to have backfired after internet activists hijacked the conference hashtag #WeNeedToTalk to highlight human rights abuses in the country under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime.

The conference’s organizers had hoped the hashtag would encourage interaction among the participants ahead of the forum and promote Egypt as a safe tourist destination. Instead, the activists posted images of security forces assaulting and arresting youths at protest sites and shared portraits of jailed journalists, activists and others who have allegedly been tortured or forcibly disappeared.

“#WeNeedToTalk about forced disappearances,” Amr Bakly, the director of the Cairo Liberal Forum, an Egyptian nongovernmental organization working to spread liberal values and culture among Egyptian youths, posted on Twitter. 

“#WeNeedToTalk about the president who spends more on arms than on education and health care,” he wrote in another tweet.

Prominent activist Mona Seif, whose brother Alaa is serving a five-year sentence for violating a law banning unauthorized protests, used the hashtag to draw attention to the plight of Amr Nohan, a student jailed for three years for posting a photoshopped image of Sisi wearing Mickey Mouse ears on Facebook. Read more via Al Monitor