When the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) and like-minded groups came into existence over twenty years ago, some hailed the groups as pillars of “civil society,” and the best hope for grassroots democratic transformation within an authoritarian regime. Others argued that these same organizations are nothing more than smokescreens deployed by authoritarian elites to deflect international and domestic pressures for reform. Two decades later, scholars and journalists still disagree on purpose and political impact of Egypt’s human rights groups. On Wednesday, October 24, Mona El-Ghobashy discusses both views, and suggests an alternative understanding of how human rights groups function in undemocratic systems.
Mona El-Ghobashy is assistant professor of political science at Barnard, where she teaches courses on comparative politics, social movements, and Middle East politics. Her work on Egyptian politics has appeared in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Middle East Report, and Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report 2004.