On the 20th of May 2015, Egypt’s minister of defense, Sedki Sobhi, issued an executive order to exempt the two Egyptian conscientious Objectors, Mark Nabil Sanad and Mostafa Ahmed El-Saied, permanently from the military service. Both conscientious objectors have been living in a legal limbo for over a year, struggling for recognition as conscientious objectors. The decision of the minister of defense didn’t recognize them as conscientious objectors, but decided to exempt them from the service permanently.
Mostafa Ahmed became, last November, the first Egyptian to receive an official written response on his demand to be recognized as a conscientious objector. After being chosen to serve as an officer in the army, Mostafa sent a letter to the minister of defense asking for exemption based on his beliefs. Two weeks later, Mostafa received a letter back from the ministry of defense rejecting his demand and claiming that refusing conscription is an act which threatens the safety of the country. Mostafa still refused to accept conscription, and remained in a legal limbo until the minister of defense exempted him last month.
Mark Nabil was also chosen to serve as an officer in the army in May 2014. He notified the conscription authorities immediately after his medical examination that he is a pacifist, and that his morality doesn’t approve the criminal actions taken by the army after the revolution. Mark had to go through many interrogations by the country’s top military intelligence. He was detained a couple of times, and lived in a legal limbo for over a year barred from his rights to work, study or travel. A huge international campaign was launched on his behalf last April, demanding that Egypt recognizes him as a conscientious objector. He received the decision of his exemption from the military service this Tuesday 16th June.
It seems that Egypt, while doesn't officially recognize conscientious objection as a right, has developed a de facto status for conscientious objection. Since Maikel Nabil refused conscription in 2010, the military had put all conscientious objectors in a legal limbo for a duration varies between weeks and years, then exempted them from the service. Until now, according to our knowledge, there has been no trial in Egypt for a conscientious objector, nor the military ever tried to force a pacifist to serve in the army. Partial objectors don’t receive the same treatment, though.
We in NoMilService, welcomes the decision to exempt the two Cos, and thanks all the individuals and groups who supported them. We encourage the Egyptian authorities to reform the conscription law, recognize the right conscientious objection, and end the suffering of conscientious objectors who have to live for a long time in a legal limbo until their cases are decided.
At the end, Peace must win!