Ahmed al-Gizawi

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Ahmed al-Gizawi (Arabic: أحمد الجيزاوي‎‎), also known as Ahmed Mohammed Tharwat Al-Sayyid, is an Egyptian human rights lawyer and activist. His arrest in Saudi Arabia in April 2012 caused heavy protests in Egypt.[1][2]

Arrest[edit]

On 17 April 2012, al-Gizawi was detained shortly after his arrival in Saudi Arabia, which some believe was because he had filed a lawsuit in a South Cairo court against Saudi monarch King Abdullah Bin Abdel Aziz Al-Saud on behalf of Egyptian citizens held without charge in Saudi prisons.[3] According to al-Gizawi's wife, he had arrived for a pilgrimage, not knowing he had been sentenced in absentia to a year in prison and 20 lashes for insulting the king.

However, Ahmed Kattan, the Saudi Ambassador to Egypt, in a statement released by the Saudi Embassy, said "The whole story is a complete fabrication." Kattan added, "No Saudi court has passed a sentence or one of flogging against the detained Egyptian ..." He also said "Saudi laws and regulations do not permit the authorities to put a non-Saudi citizen on trial in absentia for acts committed outside its territory."[4]

Saudi officials said that al-Gizawi had been arrested at the King Abdulaziz International Airport near Jeddah on 17 April for possession of 21,000 Xanax anti-anxiety pills, which are banned in the country.[2] They expressed doubt that he intended to go on a pilgrimage (Umrah), as he was not wearing the typical white pilgrim dress (Ihram).[1]

Protests[edit]

Protesting al-Gizawi's detention, around 1,000 Egyptians demonstrated in front of the Saudi embassy in Cairo on 27 April, demanding release of al-Gizawi and of the other Egyptians held in Saudi jails.[2] Following the protests, Saudi authorities announced the closure of the Saudi embassy and other consulates in Egypt. Egypt's head of military council, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, said he was working to heal the rift with Saudi Arabia over the surprise Saudi decision.[2] Many observers said that it is the worst falling-out between the two countries since Saudi Arabia severed ties after Egypt signed a peace deal with Israel in 1979.[1] A Saudi spokesperson said threats to the Saudi embassy in Cairo had led to the suspension of diplomatic and consular services for Egyptian workers and Muslim pilgrims headed for Islam's holiest sites, located in western Saudi Arabia.[5]

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