The Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East held a lunch discussion with Bahey El Din Hassan, Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and one of Egypt’s leading human rights activists, on December 2.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Hassan described the first round of the Egyptian elections as “technically fair, but not free.” He said the human rights situation has deteriorated in Egypt since former President Mubarak left, citing many “alarming developments.” Mr. Hassan discussed the heavy reliance on the military judiciary system(12,000 civilians tried in military courts since February as opposed to 2000 during the entire Mubarak era), the crackdown on political and civil society activists, and the continued use of forms of torture. The use of violence against Coptic demonstrators in October was an unprecedented incident, he said, highlighting the lack of accountability for perpetrators. Mr. Hassan also discussed the crackdown on NGOs and the specific targeting of certain organizations. “For the first time, the entire human rights community is subject to the official prosecuting process,” he said, referring to accusations that NGOs are receiving funds from foreign countries and working against the Egyptian national interest.

Mr. Hassan noted that the troubling campaign of harassment did not target Islamists, who were the main political victims during the Mubarak era. He said that Islamists have not been subject to military trials, torture, or interrogation on their sources of funding; the military leadership has been targeting the forces of change behind the revolution. Mr. Hassan did not discount the possibility of violence in the next rounds of the parliamentary elections in light of the “propaganda campaign” portraying Liberals as Western agents.