Aya Hijazi, an American-Egyptian and long committed to social justice and community service, founded the volunteer-based NGO Belady (“My Country”) with her Egyptian husband Mohammed Hassanein in Cairo in September 2013 to educate, provide temporary housing, and ultimately reunite street children with their families.
They funded the new foundation by foregoing a honeymoon and a formal wedding ceremony.
In accordance with the law, Aya and Mohammed applied to the Ministry of Social Solidarity to register Belady as a legally recognized nonprofit, submitting necessary paperwork to the Egyptian government by December 2013 to fulfill all necessary requirements to begin operation.
On May 1, 2014, the Egyptian police raided the Belady premises and conducted a warrantless arrest of Aya, her husband, two other volunteers, and all the street children who were present. Four other volunteers were arrested later. Only one of them has been released from detention in the last 900 days.
Egyptian law provides that the maximum period of time that a person may be held in temporary detention is two years. For Aya, her husband, and two of the other defendants, that period expired on May 1, 2016.
Aya was charged on September 8, 2014 and is facing seven false charges.
Human trafficking of minors
Indecent assault of minors
Sexual exploitation of minors
Kidnaping and exploitation of minors
Unlawful detention and torture of minors
Facilitating and inciting sexual deviation and exploitation
Illegal formation of the Belady Foundation
Aya and Mohamed are facing a maximum sentence of life in prison. Their next hearing is on November 19, 2016.
Sign our petition now to call for Aya and Mohamed’s release.