Two weeks ago, Emad Shahin, a board member of Georgetown's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and a one-time visiting professor at the University, was implicated by Egypt's State Security Prosecutor in a high-profile espionage and sedition case that also named that country's ousted president, Mohammed Morsi. In a letter dated Jan. 22, Shahin, an Egyptian citizen, dismissed the charges levied against him as "baseless" and "politically motivated."
The case against Shahin comes as part of the latest wave of repression from military-controlled Egypt. Amr Hamzawy, an academic and more prominent critic of the democratic and human eights violations taking place in post-Arab Spring Egypt, was accused of "insulting the judiciary" after sending out a politically pointed tweet.
Shahin, who is also on the faculty of Notre Dame University and the American University in Cairo, is at Georgetown today for conference entitled "Egypt and the Struggle for Democracy."
The charges levied against Shahin have not been made available to the public. However, in his letter, Shahin disclosed that he had accused of "espionage, leading an illegal organization, providing a banned organization with information and financial support, calling for the suspension of the [Egyptian] Constitution, preventing state institutions and authorities from performing their functions, harming national unity and social harmony, and causing to change the government by force."
The charges attempt to link Shahin with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political party that played a key role in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution against Hosni Mubarak and subsequently took control of Egypt's governing apparatuses after controversy-marred national elections brought its president candidate, Mohammed Morsi, to power in June 2012. Morsi and the Brotherhood were deposed in July of last year, when Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of the Egyptian military staged what most have denounced as a coup d'état. The Brotherhood has gone underground ever since, as the military has conducted a widely-condemned crackdown on all dissent.
Shahin emphatically denied all links to the Muslim Brotherhood. He wrote: "I have been critical of the course of political events in Egypt since last summer and can only conclude that such criticism—entirely restricted to word and utterly unconnected to any organized group, faction, or party—is my true offense." Indeed, Shahin's dislike of Egypt's new military regime was no secret, at least in academic circles; in the past, however, he has attacked Hosni Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood for perceived anti-democratic offenses.
Yesterday, 13 Georgetown professors sent an open letter to the Egyptian Prime Minister, Hazem Al-Beblawi, urging him to "do everything in [his] power to reverse the decision to indict Professor Shahin." A full copy of the letter can be seen below.
In the meantime, Shahin's exact legal status in Egpyt remains unclear. In an interview yesterdaywith CNN's Christiane Amanpour, he said, "I have not seen the exact charges. Nobody has interrogated me, nobody has subpoenaed me, and all I have is that I have been listed as a fugitive – a defendant who is at large." His case is set to be reviewed on Feb. 16.