Country report and updates: Egypt



1 Conscription

conscription exists

According to art. 58 of the constitution, "Defence of the homeland and its territory is a sacred duty and conscription is compulsory, in accordance with the law". Military service is regulated by the 1980 Military and National Service Act no. 127. [8]

military service

All men between 18 and 30 are liable for military service, which lasts for 3 years. [13] [14] [3] [6]

Graduated students serve for a period of 18 months. [6]

After serving, conscripts belong to the reserves for 7 years. [3]

postponement and exemption

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. [5] [6] [7]

Exemption from military service is possible for Jews, those with physical or mental disabilities, only sons of a family, and sons of Egyptian military killed during the 1973 war with Israel. [2] [5] [6] [7]


If the number of conscripts exceeds the number needed in a given year, the Egyptian authorities may exempt the superfluous conscripts by drawing lots. [6]

According to the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, "those suspected of being members of the outlawed Islamic militant groups (...) are excluded from military service." [12]

2 Conscientious objection

There is no legal provision for conscientious objection and no substitute service. [2] [13] [7]

In 1991 at least 20 persons were detained not for conscientious objection, but for speaking out against Egyptian participation in the Gulf War. [4]

3 Draft-evasion and desertion


Refusal to perform military service is punishable by a year's imprisonment and a fine. [13]

Also they may be punished by a prolongation of their military service for one year in the case of graduated students and for three years in other cases. [7]

Draft evaders and deserters who have fled abroad cannot renew their passports. [7]


Draft evaders and men of conscription age are not allowed to travel abroad. In order to obtain a passport all men must must prove they have completed military service or have been exempted. [9] [11]

The number of draft evaders is not known, but according to Agence France Presse in 1993 more than 4,000 draft evaders were arrested by the security forces. [10]

Those who have acquired double nationality or who are over 30 and have avoided military service may get exempted but must pay a fine. [6]

5 History

National service was introduced in 1955. [3]

During the wars with Israel, many fled abroad to avoid conscription. Two Egyptian conscripts who had refused to participate in the war were not granted asylum in the Netherlands and were expelled in 1972. [1]

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces comprise 450,000 troops, including some 320,000 conscripts (71 percent). They form 0.7 percent of the population. There is a 254,000 strong reserve force. [14]

Every year approximately 585,000 men reach conscription age. [14]


[1] Krieken, P.J. van 1976. Deserteurs, dienstweigeraars en asielrecht. Van Gorcum, Assen, Netherlands. [2] Eide, A., C. Mubanga-Chipoya 1985. Conscientious objection to military service. United Nations, New York. [3] Société I3C 1987. Military Powers, the league of Arab states, vol 2. Société I3C, Paris, France. [4] 'You can jail the resister but not the resistance', in: Peace News, 1 March 1993. London, UK. [5] DIRB 1991. Telephone interview with a representative of the Embassy of Egypt in Ottawa, 14 May 1991. [6] DIRB 1991. Telephone interview with a representative of the Arab League, Ottawa, 14 May 1991. [7] IRBDC 1992. Telephone interview with a representative of the Embassy of Egypt in Ottawa, 12 and 14 May 1992. [8] UN Commission on Human Rights 1992. Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1991/65 (and 3 Addendums). United Nations, Geneva. [9] IRBDC 1993. Telephone interview with a representative of the Embassy of Egypt in Ottawa, 16 November 1993. [10] Agence France Presse (AFP), 27 May 1993. [11] US State Department 1997. Country reports on Human Rights Practices for 1996. Washington DC. [12] IRBDC 1997. Letter from Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, 5 April 1997. [13] UN Commission on Human Rights 1997. The question of conscientious objection to military service. United Nations, Geneva. [14] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London, UK.


Articles related to conscientious objection

23 May 2011

Yesterday, the prison department sent me a delegate to inform me about the ratification of the sentence against me of the military court to 3 years, charged with offending the military establishment reputation.

05 May 2011

Interview with Maikel Nabal Sanad, recorded shortly before his arrest on 28 March 2011

29 Apr 2011

Maikel Nabil is jailed in the Magr prison, in a small cell. The cell is called a reformatory, and is know as "the trial," where he stays for days without seeing sunlight. He is also not allowed to get out of
the cell for any exercise. The guard interacts with Maikel only once in 24 hours, when he opens the cell at 12pm to hand Maikel his one daily meal. Then he locks 6 metal doors on the way out.

Maikel is then left in that cell with three extremely dangerous criminals. He has been threatened explicitly by one of his cellmates that "one of these days, I will cut your face with a razor."

19 Apr 2011

Repression in (post)-revolutionary Egypt

On 7 March, a few weeks after the resignation of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, Maikel Nabil Sanad wrote this sentence in a detailed article on his blog [1]. In this article he analysed in detail the role of the Egyptian military during and after the revolution, and came to the conclusion that the people and the military never “were one hand” - as people said so often during the revolution.

12 Apr 2011
Maikel Nabil SanadMaikel Nabil Sanad

An Egyptian military court sentenced pacifist blogger and conscientious objector Maikel Nabil Sanad on 10 April to three years' imprisonment on charges of "insulting the military". Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested at his home by military police on 28 March 2011, The military court ordered his detention for 15 days, pending the investigation.

Forum posts related to conscientious objection