03/06/2019

Urgent Action: Jailed Musician Faces Trumped-Up Charges (Egypt: UA 27.19)


On 5 May 2018, Egyptian authorities arrested 33-year-old musician Rami Sidky at Cairo International Airport. He was detained in connection with a satirical music video, “Balaha,” which had gone viral ahead of the March 2018 presidential elections, and appeared to poke fun at President El-Sisi. According to his lawyer, Rami Sidky took no part in writing, producing or performing the “Balaha” song. The authorities had already detained the alleged author of the lyrics in March 2018, along with four other individuals accused of involvement in the track production. In addition, Amnesty International considers that the song is part and parcel of the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Rami Sidky, along with his co-defendants in case 480/2018, are facing the trumped-up charges of “membership of a terrorist group” and “insulting the president.” On 9 February 2019, a judge extended Sidky’s pre-trial detention for another 45 days.

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Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek
Office of the Public Prosecutor, Dar alQada
Al-Ali, Downtown
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 2577 4716
Ambassador Yasser Reda
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
3521 International Ct NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 895 5400 I Fax: 202 244 5131
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @EgyptEmbassyUSA
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Counsellor,

Rami Sidky, a 33-year-old Egyptian guitarist, has been detained since May 2018 in connection with a song he neither wrote, nor produced, nor performed. His detention has been renewed since then, and on 9 February 2019, a judge extended his pre-trial detention for another 45 days.

On 5 May 2018, security forces arrested Sidky at Cairo International Airport while he was on his way back from a concert in Beirut. The authorities held him incommunicado for more than 24 hours, during which they told his family he never left the airport. The satirical song in question, “Balaha,” which had gone viral ahead of the presidential elections in March 2018, was deemed offensive to President El-Sisi by the authorities. Amnesty International has found that the song does not contain any advocacy of hatred or incitement to violence or discrimination. Additionally, music is a form of acceptable expression, implicit in the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Egyptian Constitution.

I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Rami Sidky and his co-defendants, who are being detained solely for the perceived exercise of their right to freedom of expression. I also urge you to drop all charges against Rami Sidky and his co-defendants in case 480/2018. The Egyptian authorities should ensure that, pending their release, Rami Sidky and his co-defendants are protected from torture and other ill-treatment and that their conditions of detention are in line with international standards.

Yours sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES