Five-year sentence for Egyptian Activist Arrested During Pilgrimage to Mecca
Egyptian lawyer and human rights advocate, Ahmad Al-Jizawi, was sentenced to five years in prison and 300 lashes by the Jeddah General Court in Saudi Arabia. Jizawi has made himself a thorn in the side of Egyptian and Saudi authorities by speaking out against arbitrary detentions, but this time he was charged with attempting to smuggle over 21,000 of the anti-anxiety pill Xanax into the country, pills that are deemed to be narcotics by the Saudi authorities.
Last April, Al-Jizawi was taking a trip with his wife to Saudi Arabia, performing the Islamic ritual of the “umrah”, or pilgrimage, when he was detained. Many activists believe that the lawyer was charged and sentenced for his contrary political views against the Saudi government, and in particular his role as an outspoken advocate for Egyptian detainees in Saudi, calling for the release of those unlawfully detained and imprisoned in the country. He also pursued a case in the Egyptian courts against Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. Many of Al-Jizawi’s supporters claim that no drugs were found in his or his wife’s luggage, and further that the luggage was not even searched. Allegedly, Al-Jizawi was first arrested before he even reached customs.
Many activists gathered in front of the Saudi embassy in Cairo in protest of Al-Jizawi’s harsh sentence. The Egyptian police arrested three demonstrators at the protest, refusing to release them until protests have ceased.
منذ قليل فى وقفة تضامنية مع احمد الجيزاوي عند السفارة السعودية قام الامن المركزى بضرب النشطاء ومن ضمنهم الناشط علاء زغلول..... #يتبع— معالى المواطن (@islamtiger) January 15, 2013
"Activist Alaa Zaghloul was beaten by the Egyptian authorities during the protests calling for the release of Al-Jizawi."
Activists on Twitter were also furious with the Saudi authorities for Al-Jizawi’s unjust sentence. Some of them claimed that the Saudi authorities used Muslim places of worship to trap and arrest their opponents.
الحكم على المصري احمد الجيزاوي بالسجن 5 سنوات و300 جلدة .............ننصحكم حجوا للبابا والفاتيكان اسهل من مكة والكعبة واكثر آمان. #السعودية— Samira Ibrahim(@SamiraIbrahim4) January 15, 2013
“The Egyptian, Ahmad Al-Jizawi was sentenced for five years and 300 lashes, we advise you to do the pilgrimage to the Vatican to see the Pope, as it’s easier and much safer than Maka and Madina.”