Wadi Natroun and Worse

by Nadeen Shaker
published in MER279

On January 25, 2014, Karim Taha and Muhammad Sharif organized separate marches about five miles apart in Cairo to commemorate the third anniversary of the uprising that toppled Husni Mubarak. Both demonstrations were quashed, and the two men met up to share a cab home. The driver took a detour that led them straight into a police checkpoint. They were both arrested and interrogated at a police station. The next day, they were transported to an unofficial prison at a military camp near one of Cairo’s satellite cities.

The Plight of Egypt's Political Prisoners

by Nadeen Shaker
published in MER279

On December 2, 2013, Mahienour al-Massry organized a protest on the corniche running along the Mediterranean seafront in Alexandria, Egypt’s second city. The human rights attorney’s raven ponytail and oversized black glasses made her easy to spot amid the dozens of people with their backs turned to the sea and their eyes trained on the courthouse across the busy roadway. Inside the building, two police officers were appealing their conviction for the brutal killing of Khalid Sa‘id in 2010, one of the incidents that galvanized the 2011 uprising that brought down President Husni Mubarak. The protesters shouted: “Down with every agent of the military!”

Slahi, Guantanamo Diary

by Lisa Hajjar
published in MER275

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Guantánamo Diary (New York: Little, Brown, 2015).

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The Moroccan Prison in Literature and Architecture

by Susan Slyomovics
published in MER275

In seventeenth-century Morocco, the scholar Abu ‘Ali al-Hasan Ibn Mas‘ud al-Yusi admonished the reigning Sultan Mawlay Isma‘il in writing. His much quoted letter, the “short epistle” or al-risala al-sughra, instructed the ruler to avoid injustice and oppression. Mawlay Isma‘il was second in line as sultan following the establishment in 1664 of the ‘Alawi dynasty, whose descendants Hassan II (1961-1999) and his son Mohammed VI (1999- ) have ruled as kings of Morocco.

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Send My Regards to Your Mother

by Zein El-Amine
published in MER275

I.

I sometimes refer to my college years in Saudi Arabia as “doing time.” But early in those years I did some time that almost did me in—and my mother, too.

I had spent high school in Bahrain as a boarder. My father pressured me to attend university near our house in Dhahran, where he worked as a contractor on the US military base.

Resistance Museum in Abu Dis

by Alex Lubin
published in MER275

In the shadow of the Israeli separation wall, and on the bucolic campus of al-Quds University in Abu Dis, a suburb of East Jerusalem, sits a museum dedicated to Palestinian prisoners of Israel. The Abu Jihad Museum for the Prisoners’ Movement is named after the Palestinian political prisoner and martyr, Khalil al-Wazir or Abu Jihad, who gained notoriety as a leader of the first intifada and an advocate for prisoners’ rights. Al-Wazir was assassinated by Israel in Tunisia in 1988.

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Writing Palestinian Politics in Israel's Prisons Before Oslo

by Rebecca Granato
published in MER275

Since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, around three quarters of a million Palestinians have been arrested, sometimes for actions taken against Israeli soldiers or civilians, but at other times for association with others or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the early days of the occupation, thousands of Palestinians were rounded up, many serving sentences of ten years or more.

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"A Beast That Took a Break and Came Back"

Prison Torture in Egypt

by Lina Attalah
published in MER275

Aida Seif al-Dawla is a psychiatrist whose fight for citizens’ rights and dignity in Egypt has taken many forms since her days as a student activist in the 1970s. In 1993, she founded the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture, of which she remains executive director. Lina Attalah, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Mada Masr, spoke with Seif al-Dawla in early April 2015 about the prevalence of torture in Egypt and the latest state attempts to restrict the activities of non-governmental organizations.

From the Editors

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers , Chris Toensing
published in MER275

No publication based in Washington should write about prisons without first noting that America leads the world in incarceration.

Matariyya, Egypt's New Theater of Dissent

by Amira Howeidy | published June 4, 2015

On June 6, two police officers will stand trial for torturing Karim Hamdi, a 27 year-old lawyer, to death on a cold February evening inside the Matariyya police station in eastern metropolitan Cairo. The identities of the officers are protected by a gag order, but the widely publicized images of their victim’s bruised and battered corpse have put the police station and its restive environs in the national spotlight.