Dozens of American professors and scholars of Middle East studies have signed a letter that describes as “appalling” an Egyptian court’s decision to sentence a prominent academic to death in absentia.
Emad el-Din Shahin, a professor of public policy at the American University in Cairo, was accused of espionage and other crimes and was sentenced this month, along with 35 co-defendants, in a high-profile case that included the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, and other Islamist leaders.
Mr. Shahin, who left Egypt last year and is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, says he is innocent and was prosecuted because of his criticism of the military coup that removed Mr. Morsi from power. His case has sparked growing concerns about a crackdown on academic freedom in Egypt.
In the letter, his supporters note that Mr. Shahin “is not afraid to draw on his expertise to speak on public issues. He was also clearly distressed by the polarization that took place in Egypt and shared the aspirations of millions of Egyptians for a more democratic and accountable political order. These are not crimes by any stretch of the imagination.”