Gamal Eid is an attorney and human rights defender who founded the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) in 2003.
Since then, both Eid and the network have been vocal critics of human rights abuses in Egypt. Eid was a major oppose of former president Hosni Mubarak.
ANHRI is dedicated to gathering information about human rights abuses throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Their main office is based in Cairo.
How do you assess the current human rights situation in Egypt?
The human rights situation in Egypt now is at its absolute worst in 30 years, but I expect the situation to improve in the future, not because the state will respect human rights, but because people will be more aware of their rights. There is some resistance, and this is demonstrated in the insistence on freedom of opinion, but now it is tired.
How do you assess the situation of freedom of opinion in the recent phase?
For the first time in Egypt’s modern history, there are 20 imprisoned journalists, and this number is telling the status of freedom of press and opinion in Egypt. Books have been confiscated, art censored, and restrictions tightened overall. The reason behind this is the lack of a real political will to respect freedom of opinion and expression, in addition to the state encouraging unfair media practices and failing to push media reform initiatives.
What do you think of the state’s war on terrorism in the midst of repeated claims of human rights violations?
The war on terrorism will not help improve Egypt’s image, although this was always the argument used by the Mubarak regime. However, this time the government’s position is a very difficult one due to the gravity of what took place, which cannot be ignored.
What is your opinion on the verdict in favour of the former president and some key figures from his regime, including his minister of interior?
Mubarak will continue being a criminal even if he was ruled innocent, and I say to him, whatever the ruling you receive, you are a criminal. You are a serial killer even if they tried to sugar-coat you, you are an enemy even if they honoured you, you are rejected even if they support you, you are one of them and not one of us.
What is your opinion on the crisis between civil society organisations and the Ministry of Social Solidarity, and the deadline given for reconciliation?
ANHRI will not stop its work, even if the government resorts to using force to close its headquarters. We will work even in the most difficult of circumstances; there are young people struggling for freedom and they are not less than we are. I do not believe the deadline granted by the Ministry of Social Solidarity for human rights organisation to legalise their status under Law No. 84 of 2002 will have an effect on the work of ANHRI and its activities.
What about the report by the 30 June fact-finding commission?
Commissions that justify murder, a judiciary that legitimises imprisonment, pens that glorify the tyrant, media that bedevils the mind. This is my response to the report by the 30 June fact-finding commission.