Omar Afifi Soliman

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Biographical Details

"Mr. Omar Afifi Soliman is a Supreme Court lawyer and former police officer from Egypt. During his fellowship [at the National Endowment for Democracy ], he worked on a project to simplify the language of democracy and human rights for the average MIDDLE Arab citizen. On July 15, 2009, he gave a presentation at NED entitled “A Conversation with Omar Afifi: Developing a Democratic Dialogue in Egypt and the Middle East.” In the fall of 2009, his organization Hukuk Elnas (People’s Rights) was awarded a NED grant to establish EAST a legal aid clinic in Cairo. ...

He notes:

"As a former police officer and Supreme Court lawyer in Egypt, I witnessed numerous avoidable incidents involving ordinary Egyptians and the police. Most Egyptians possess little knowledge of their civic and political rights, while even those who are literate find it difficult to comprehend the complex language of the law, which is written infushaa, or high Arabic. “Developing a Dialogue Egyptian police routinely exploit on Democracy in Egypt citizens’ ignorance of their basic and the Arab World” rights, engaging in harassment Dates in Residence: and the unlawful detention of January–August 2009 innocent civilians. In response, I created a TV series and wrote a handbook in colloquial Arabic, “The path forward entitled How Not To Be Slapped on the Back of Your Neck, to teach Egyptians about their civil for democracy in rights. These products became an overnight success: the Egypt . . . is inex- book, in particular, sold 50,000 copies in two weeks before tricably linked to being banned by the government. This brought home to me the overwhelming demand among ordinary Egyptians for ed- strengthening the ucation concerning basic civil and political rights. An urgent rule of law, improv- need exists to educate Egyptians about the fundamentals of ing civic-education democracy and the benefits of transparent, fair, and effec- tive governance. My experiences have led me to believe that programs, and in - the path forward for democracy in Egypt—and the broader creasing awareness Middle East—is inextricably linked to strengthening the rule of the relationship of law, improving civic-education programs, and increasing between democratic awareness of the relationship between democratic gover- nance and an enhanced quality of life for all." [1]

"Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, which analyzes Middle Eastern politics, described Afifi's role as significant. He said Afifi "basically fired the first shot" when, on Jan. 14, in the wake of a popular revolt in Tunisia, Afifi released those YouTube videos calling for massive tests in Egypt on Jan. 25. Those protests were the biggest Egypt had seen in years and set the stage for the wave of demonstrations that on Wednesday prompted Mubarak to say he will not seek another term as president.

"Laith Kubba, a senior director at the National Endowment for Democracy, where Afifi recently completed a fellowship, said Afifi's credibility was established with the Egyptian public when he wrote his book, which was banned in Egypt and forced Afifi to leave the country." [2]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. [ NED Booklet], NED, accessed February 3, 2011.
  2. Ex-Egyptian Cop Living in Northern Virginia Works for Revolution, myfoxdc, accessed February 3, 2011.