Oxford student sentenced to death in Egypt

first_imgA Masters student at Oxford University has been sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian court over her alleged involvement with the deposed government of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.Sondos Asem, a researcher and graduate student at the Blavatnik School of Government, worked as a foreign press secretary under Mohammed Morsi, the fifth President of Egypt, who was deposed in the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état. Asem was also an editor for Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood’s English language website.Following the deposition of Morsi, Asem was one of many defendants charged with espionage and conspiring with Palestinian group Hamas against the Egyptian government. Following a ‘Grand Espionage Trial’, all of the defendants, including Morsi himself, were sentenced to death in a preliminary verdict on Saturday 16th May. This sentence has now been passed on to Egypt’s Grand Mufti (Egypt’s highest religious authority) for official approval. The expected date for the final decision is Tuesday 2nd June.Asem was tried and sentenced in absentia whilst she pursued her degree in England.Following the ruling, Asem’s college, which has asked not to be named for security reasons, has rallied around the MCR student. The Dean commented, “We are deeply concerned about Sondos’ well-being and her safety. She herself is demonstrating amazing resilience in the face of this blow. She is well supported by friends, and has access to lawyers.”The Dean continued, “Both the head of the College, the Deans and her fellow students are giving her as much moral support as they can and she knows that she can call on the College for any other support in case of need.”In response to Oxford’s reaction to her sentence, Asem told Cherwell, “The support I have received so far from my fellow students is what makes me stronger. I am impressed by the level of political awareness, human rights advocacy, and empathy on the part of my fellow students in Oxford and [my College]. This has proved to me that people can share the same values despite coming from different countries and cultures. This death sentence is not just about me, it is one example of the injustice that thousands of other women and men are suffering due to repression in Egypt.”OUSU passed a motion on Wednesday at OUSU Council standing in solidarity with Sondos Asem.Asem’s JCR has also showed their support in a motion which passed without opposition on Monday night. Proposed by the college women’s football team, of which Asem is a member, the motion urged JCR students to recognise the unjust and politically motivated sentence, and pledged to condemn the sentence of the Egyptian courts, show solidarity with Asem and urge college authorities to provide support for her.A member of the college football team, and proposer of the motion, told Cherwell, “I proposed the motion because I thought it was important that the JCR was aware of what was happening; Sondos is a member of the college women’s football club (we have both MCR and JCR members playing on the team), and I felt it was our duty as a JCR to get together and show one of our fellow students that we recognised what she was going through, and that we stood in solidarity and support with her. Sondos is not just part of the college community; she’s our peer, colleague and team-mate, so I felt that it was up to the women’s football club to lead the charge, in a way.”The JCR is joining the Blavatnik School of Government in condemning the Egyptian courts. The Blavatnik has issued a statement saying, “We are appalled to hear that Sondos is being prosecuted for simply doing her job as a foreign media coordinator in the office of a democratically elected president. Sondos is as passionate and committed to the principles of public service as any of us. Whether it is lending an ear to friends, debating philosophy, praying together, or playing football with classmates, Sondos is an invaluable part of our community. Like all of us, she came here to learn how to improve people’s lives through good government.“We condemn this ruling and urge people and governments to speak up for the rule of law and against this injustice.”last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *