Action Alert: Egypt – IHRC calls for the release of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman and his return to Egypt

Sheikh Omar
Ted Thai,


1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letter

1. Summary

IHRC urges campaigners to write letters to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) in Egypt, demanding them to ensure that Islamic scholar Dr. Omar Abdul Rahman is released.

The US government imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, sentenced him to a life in 1995 through sedition laws last used during the American civil war.

2. Background

Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman is an elderly Egyptian sheikh, imprisoned in the United States in 1995 through sedition laws last used during the American civil war. He is now 73 years of age, and his health has deteriorated significantly. There is a high chance that he may die soon, and his family have requested for him to be able to spend his last moments with them in Egypt.

His family will be holding a protest in front of the headquarters of the Egyptian Armed Forces on Friday, March25, 2011, calling upon Chief of the Armed Forces, Marshal Tantawi, to demand the immediate release and return of Sheikh Abdul Rahman to his country.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman was imprisoned several times in Egypt in 1970 and 1981 for 3 years. He left Egypt in 1990 after facing security restrictions and being put under house arrest for a year. Three years after arriving to the US, he was arrested on de-contextualised evidences and sentenced to a life sentence.

The elderly Islamic scholar, educated at the prestigious al-Azhar University in Cairo, and unceremoniously dubbed by the media as the Godfather of the Islamic Group, has been a harsh critic of the regime of Hosni Mubarak. He has welcomed initiatives by the Islamic Group to stop the violence currently taking place in Egypt.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman spent 18 years under solitary confinement, and is restricted from being having visitors.

His lawyer Lynne Stewart, the only person granted permission to visit the elderly Sheikh, was also convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for relaying messages between the Sheikh and his family.

His family has only been granted a visitation once in the last 18 years. Their efforts of gaining a visa to visit him more often were on every occasion denied.

His health has deteriorated substantially, as he suffers from many illnesses and is confined to a wheelchair. He was reportedly subject to physical abuse by the prison guards, and subjected to strip searches every time he has a visitor.

IHRC calls for the immediate release of Dr. Omar Abdul Rahman, and his safe return to his family in Egypt.

For further background information, please refer previous alerts below:

3. Action required

Write to the Supreme Council for Armed Forcing requesting them to urge the US government to release Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman immediately, and return him safely to Egypt.

4. Sample letter

A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.


[Your Name]
[Your Address]

Supreme Council for Armed Forces
Ministry of Interior
23 July Street
Kobry Al-Qubba

Dear Marshal Mohamed Tantawi,

Re: The release of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman from US prisons

I am very concerned about the current health situation of the Egyptian national Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who has been unjustly serving a life sentence, through sedition laws last used during the American civil war. He spent 18 years in solitary confinement in a US prison.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman is an elderly and frail man, and a very well respected scholar from Al-Azhar. His imprisonment is an insult to the Egyptian government, and to the Al-Azhar institution. He is currently suffering from serious illnesses including diabetes and heart problems. Physician reports state that ‘his overall prognosis is poor and he is confined to a wheelchair.’

The family of Sheikh Omar have been repeatedly denied visitation rights over the past 18 years.

I am deeply concerned about the state of his health, which has deteriorated under the poor conditions in a US prison. I request that you to call upon the US government to secure his release and return him to his country Egypt. Please use your authority, as head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forced, which heads the provisional government of Egypt, to call for his immediate release.

I look forward to your assurance regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Signature]
[Your Name]


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“And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.”
Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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