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New On The Freedom Collection: Bahey El Din Hassan

Article by Christopher Walsh February 1, 2013 //   3 minute read

Watch the new Freedom Collection interview with Bahey El Din Hassan.  He is an Egyptian activist who promotes human rights culture in his native Egypt and throughout the Arab world. Prior to the Egyptian revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s government, Hassan, a professional journalist, advocated for freedom of the press.  Through this activism, he became more interested in the importance of educating others on human rights.  In 1983, he joined the Arab Organization for Human Rights and two years later helped establish an offshoot group called the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR).  Over the years, the Egyptian government cracked down on EOHR’s work, arresting and torturing several of the organization’s members and stripping its status as a legally registered entity.  Despite the threat of violence or arrest, Hassan and others helped EOHR to endure and continued to strengthen Egypt’s human rights movement. In 1993, Hassan co-founded the Cairo Institute for Human Rights (CIHRS), an independent nongovernmental organization that promotes human rights and democracy in the Arab region. Through these various organizations, Hassan has played a role in educating a new generation of young Egyptians on the importance of embracing a universal code of human rights that encourages freedom and dignity for all people. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Hassan continues his efforts to strengthen human rights education in Egypt and the greater Arab world.  Hassan argues that the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime was only the beginning, and that Egyptians must cultivate a democratic tradition, bolstered by a robust civil society, that respects human rights in order to be successful.  With regard to a specific role for civil society, he says, “civil society in general and at the heart – civil society for human rights – should work closely with new political actors to build up or to occupy the political vacuum and develop, day-by-day, an influential voice on the political process of transition in Egypt.” While Hassan recognizes this is a process the Egyptians must shape for themselves, he believes the international community must play a constructive role in encouraging democracy in Egypt saying, “In ten years’ time we – Egypt – can start building a democratic country.  But I expect that this would be after a lot of suffering.  It will be a learning process, a very tough learning process for the Egyptians.  And in this regard, the attitude of the international community can contribute to the extension of such a painful transition period or make it shorter.” Watch his interview here. This post was written by Christopher Walsh, Program Coordinator of the Freedom Collection.