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 Malevolent: Widening Crackdown, Egypt Shutters Group That Treats Torture Victims

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PostSubject: Malevolent: Widening Crackdown, Egypt Shutters Group That Treats Torture Victims   Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:15 pm

CAIRO — The Egyptian police on Thursday shut down the offices of an organization that treats victims of torture and violence in the latest escalation of a harsh government crackdown against human rights defenders and civil liberties groups.

The organization, Al Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, is one of several groups to have their offices closed, their assets frozen or travel bans imposed on their leaders in the past year. Prominent lawyers, journalists and others considered a threat to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have also been singled out.

In justifying the sweeping measures, Egyptian officials say they need to regulate Western-funded groups that threaten the stability of the Egyptian state and aid terrorism. Critics say Mr. Sisi is seeking to consolidate his control by silencing even the mildest sources of dissent.

Since coming to power in 2013, his government has locked up tens of thousands of opponents and effectively outlawed public protests. Now, many fear, President Trump’s support for Mr. Sisi could embolden the Egyptian leader to go further.

Mr. Trump has embraced Mr. Sisi as a “fantastic guy” and invited him to the White House. Mr. Sisi was notably silent about Mr. Trump’s recent ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Al Nadeem Center, which was founded in 1993, has been fighting for survival since last February, when the government first threatened to close it, citing vague health regulations. The center has provided therapy to about 1,000 victims of police abuse, its founders say, and cataloged instances of police torture, unlawful killings and illegal abductions.

Such abuses have a strong political resonance in Egypt. Public anger at widespread police misconduct was a leading cause of the January 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Early on Thursday, about 50 police officers turned up at the center’s offices and put wax seals on the doors, said Magda Adly, a founding member of Al Nadeem. “I don’t understand how a regime with an army and a police force can be scared of 20 activists,” she said in a phone interview.®ion=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Middle%20East&pgtype=article
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