Egypt’s Sisi pardons jailed activist Ahmed Douma
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has exercised his constitutional authority by issuing a presidential pardon to prominent activist Ahmed Douma, who had been imprisoned for the past ten years, announced lawyers on Saturday.
Ahmed Douma, a central figure in the 2011 uprising that reshaped Egypt’s political landscape, was among several prisoners to receive a presidential pardon, according to lawyer Tarek Elawady, a member of the presidential pardons committee. Douma’s release follows a court ruling in 2019 that reduced his initial 25-year sentence to 15 years. The charges stemmed from a clash with security forces in the capital two years prior.
Notably, Douma’s case garnered significant attention due to his involvement in the 2011 revolution that led to the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak. The 37-year-old activist also gained recognition for his literary work during his incarceration, having penned a collection of poems titled “Curly,” which he wrote while held in solitary confinement.
Despite the anticipation surrounding his release, some critics expressed concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the pardons and the selective nature of the decision-making process. Hossam Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, highlighted that while the pardons reflected awareness of growing domestic and international frustration, they did not signal an end to the ongoing issue of political prisoners in Egypt.
President Sisi’s pardon coincides with Egypt’s efforts to facilitate a “national dialogue” aimed at revitalizing the opposition that has suffered significant setbacks during the past decade of political repression. The announcement of the pardon also comes ahead of Egypt’s upcoming presidential election in 2024, where Sisi is widely expected to seek re-election, though formal candidates have yet to be announced.