As the United States has continued to give the regime billions and President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has been showered with praise from President Donald Trump, the Egyptian regime continues to wipe out free of speech, the free press, and other civil liberties. The latest outrage is the death of Egyptian filmmaker Shady Habash, 24, who was incarcerated for two years without trial for a music video entitled “Balaha” mocking Sisi. The American people has supported this lethally insecure authoritarian leader and a regime at war with the very founding principles of this country. In a letter published by his supporters, Habash wrote “Prison doesn’t kill, loneliness does.”
Egypt has seen a dramatic rollback on civil liberties under al-Sissi with increasing pettiness and arbitrariness. A teenager was jailed for cartoons of Muhammad and a leading businessman was attacked for a cartoon of Micky Mouse with a beard. Then there was the three-year sentence given Amr Nohan, a 22-year-old law graduate for posting a Facebook image of Sisi with Mickey Mouse-style cartoon ears. A leading cartoonist Islam Gawish, 26, was arrested in Egypt by the hyper sensitive al-Sisi government. There was also the singer who simply complained about the lack of artistic freedom so the regime banned her from performing. It even banned yellow vests in fear that Egyptians might be inspired by the Paris protests.
Habash has been held in the notorious Tora prison in Cairo since 2018 when he was arrested for directing a music video for Ramy Essam, an Egyptian rock musician. Essam was a key artistic figure during the 2011 revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The video’s title “Balaha,” means date and is a widely used derisive nickname for Sisi.
In Habash’s memory and in support for all of those still fighting for free expression in Egypt, here is the video (which seems from the flags in the background to have been shot in Arkansas):
The video has been seen millions of times — again showing the power of a free Internet despite rising calls for creeping forms of censorship from some American politicians and academics.