Re: Egypt - Death threat against human rights defender Ms Nehad Abu-al-Qumsan
On 2 May 2011, human rights defender and lawyer Ms Nehad Abu-al-Qumsan
received an abusive letter threatening her with death should she continue with her campaign for women's rights. Nehad Abu-al-Qumsan is the Chairwoman of the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights and is currently campaigning for the reform of family laws in Egypt. This threat follows a series of internet-based and physical attacks against women's rights activists by Islamists Salafis, i.e. those adopting a literal interpretation of the Qur'an and Sharia calling for the application of Islamic teachings exactly as they were adopted by prophet Muhammad and his followers.
In the letter received on 2 May 2011, Nehad Abu-al-Qumsan was barraged by offensive abuse and threatened to be killed. She was ordered to desist from her ongoing campaign for the reform of family laws with a view to harmonizing them with international human rights treaties. The letter was signed by a man under the name of Seif al-Islam, or sword of Islam, who claims to be the Emir, or Governor, of Muslims in the region. The sending of the letter follows recent statements made by Nehad Abu-al-Qusman calling for any attempts by Islamists to scupper the small gains achieved by women in relation to family laws in recent years to be vigorously resisted by the Egyptian authorities. The threat also comes in the context of an ongoing anti-women campaign waged across the country by Egyptian Islamist Salafis. In recent weeks the Salafis stepped up their attacks on sections of women across Egypt threatening them with punishment according to Shari'a law unless they comply with a strict version of Islamic code of behavior including the wearing of the hijab.
The Egyptian Center for Women's Rights is an award-winning NGO which campaigns for the realisation of Egyptian women's rights, combating of all forms of discrimination against women, and promoting legislative reform with a view to harmonizing all laws related to women with international human rights treaties including the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Front Line believes that the threatening letter received by Nehad Abu-al-Qumsan is directly related to her work in defence of human rights, in particular to the promotion and protection of women's rights in Egypt. Front Line is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Nehad Abu-al-Qumsan.
Front Line urges the authorities in Egypt to:
1. Instigate an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the death threat received by human rights defender Nehad Abu-al-Qumsan, with a view to identifying and bringing to justice those behind the threatening letter;
2. Provide prompt and effective protection to Nehad Abu-al-Qumsan against any attacks on her or the staff of the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that Nehad Abu-al-Qumsan and all women human rights defenders in Egypt are able to carry out their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
To take action , please see our web at http://frontlinedefenders.org/act