Human rights activist Ahmed Seif El-Islam dies at 63

Ahram Online , Wednesday 27 Aug 2014

Seif El-Islam was a longtime activist and lawyer; two of his children are currently being detained for violating the protest law

 Ahmed Seif El-Islam
Human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif El-Islam dies at 63 (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Prominent Egyptian activist and human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif El-Islam has died Wednesday at 63 years old, after a long struggle with heart problems.

Seif El-Islam, who represents – along with his wife and his children – a life of political activism, had been unconscious in the intensive care unit for nearly two weeks.

Born in the Nile Delta governorate of Beheira, Seif El-Islam earned his BA in political science and BA in law from Cairo University 1977 and 1989 respectively.

Seif El-Islam was detained four times, twice during the rule of former president Anwar El-Sadat and twice during the rule of ousted long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

In an Amnesty International report in 2008, Seif El-Islam recalled when he was arrested and tortured by State Security Investigations officers in 1983. The activist served five years in prison for his involvement in the socialist movement, a decisive point in his life where he decided after to dedicate it to the fight against torture in Egypt.

His middle daughter Mona was born while he was in jail.

After being released, he was involved in important human rights-related cases.

He founded, with other human rights advocates, the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre in 1999 to challenge human rights violations in Egypt and to offer all forms of support to victims through legal assistance in and outside courts.

The last time he was detained was in February 2011, along with other rights activists and journalists, during the 18 days of the popular revolution that toppled Mubarak.

Seif El-Islam's wife Laila Seif is a professor at Cairo University and a fellow fighter for human rights.

Their three children Alaa, Mona and Sanaa also became human rights and political activists. Although both Alaa and Sanaa are currently being detained for breaking the protest law, they were permitted to visit their sick father while in hospital.

Seif El-Islam has defended a variety of political prisoners including leftists and Islamists. 

He volunteered to defend groups such as the Revolutionary Socialists and Islamic Liberation Party in 2003 and 2004. He was also among the defense team for 49 people, tried in the Supreme National Security Court on charges of participation in protests that came out in support of the workers movement in 2008.

He is also the author of several legal writings on remnant detention and emergency laws, used for decades in Egypt to silence dissent.

Seif El-Islam’s funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon at Salah El-Din mosque in Manial district.

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