An Egyptian campaign to demand an end to the use of solitary confinement has gained traction in the last week, as prominent activists and journalists started posting their photos online with the hashtag #No_to_solitary_confinement.
Although Egyptian law allows solitary confinement for up to 30 days, one particular case has triggered widespread condemnation in recent weeks. Malek Adly, a prominent human rights lawyer based in Cairo, was arrested last month and has been placed under solitary confinement for nearly six weeks, according to his family and lawyers.
Adly was accused of attempting to overthrow the government after he filed a case against President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, following his decision to hand over two islands to Saudi Arabia, a decision that caused anger online — and mass protests in Cairo.
Lilian Dawod, prominent TV presenter, wrote: “No to solitary confinement — in solidarity with all prisoners of conscience.”
Ahdaf Souief, an Egyptian novelist, also changed her profile picture.
Ramy Essam, a pop music singer, wrote: "No to solitary confinement. Freedom and glory for prisoners. Revolution is the solution ..."
Gamal Eid, a human rights lawyer, wrote: “No to the dark prison — No to solitary confinement.”
Zyad Al Elimy, who was imprisoned after the Jan. 25 revolution, said solitary confinement is an extra punishment used against by the government to harass political opposition.
Last week, Adly sent an open letter through his wife, who was allowed to visit him in prison.
“Although it is horrible experience here, thank god for the dream that we will not give up,” he wrote in the letter. “We know we will pay high price for every word we say or position we take while facing injustice, but we will keep holding our dreams alive.”
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Asmaa Aly, Adly’s wife said officials at the prison told her a special security officer was hired by the prison to make sure Adly remained in solitary confinement.
“When I visit my husband, high ranking police officers tell me that they respect Malek and really want to help him but they have orders from “very high places” to keep him in solitary confinement,” she said.
Adly told a court last month that he was fine with being in prison but being placed under solitary confinement for extensive time was against prison rules.