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Egypt: New conscientious objectors

Emad El Dafrawi in May 2011Emad El Dafrawi in May 2011On 12 April 2012, Emad El Dafrawi declared his conscientious objection to military service, and thus became the second publicly known conscientious objector in the country, after Maikel Nabil Sanad. In his conscientious objection declaration, Emad El Dafrawi writes: "I’m pacifist and anti-militarist, which means that the military activities including holding weapons and using violence contradict my beliefs. I’m a conscientious objector to the military service. I refuse to obey military orders and I consider all wars to be crimes."

Another blogger, Hitham El Kashef, has declared that he will not submit to compulsory military service.

In Egypt, all men between 18 and 30 are liable for military service, which lasts for 3 years. Postponement is possible for students for the duration of their studies or until they are 28, and for various domestic reasons. Sons of retired men are exempted as long as an older brother is at service.

Draft evaders - and conscientious objectors are treated as draft evaders - and men of conscription age are not allowed to travel abroad. In order to obtain a passport all men must prove they have completed military service or have been exempted.

Emad El Dafrawi and Hitham El Kashef, and other conscientious objectors will need strong international support, as it is feared that they will be arrested by the military at some stage. They may face imprisonment for three years on charges of evading military service, or further charges may be added.

Sources: Global Voices Online: Egypt: Campaign Against Compulsory Military Service Gains Momentum, 17 April 2012; Email communication from Emad El Dafrawi, Hitham El Kashef, and Maikel Nabil Sanad.