Award-Winning Journalist & Human Rights Advocate Imprisoned in Egypt for 438 Days | Bestselling Author, The Marriott Cell | Founder, Fahmy Foundation
Mohamed Fahmy is an award-winning Egyptian-Canadian war reporter, journalist, author and human rights activist. He spent most of his career covering conflict zones and some of the most definitive global events that shape our world today. During his multi-decade career, he has reported for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Dubai TV, Al Jazeera and CNN. In addition, he spent one year working for the International Committee of the Red Cross, protecting refugees, political prisoners, and the missing.
His most recent post as the Egypt Bureau Chief of Al Jazeera International captured world attention when he was unjustly arrested in December 2013. He was incarcerated for over 400 days —including a month in solitary—alongside ISIS terrorists and some of the most hardened Jihadists in the Middle East in Egypt’s maximum-security prisons.
The Egyptian government charged Fahmy with conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood, a militant group considered a terrorist group in many countries. He was wrongly charged with fabricating news to serve the fundamentalist group’s agenda. At the time, Egypt faced an international outcry from groups ranging from human rights and press freedom organizations to the United Nations, the European Union and President Barack Obama.
In September 2015, Fahmy was pardoned by the Egyptian Government.
He returned home to Canada in October of 2015, and was the first professor in the history of the university to sign a contract with The University of British Columbia while still in prison as an adjunct professor. He lectured thousands of students about his legal battle for freedom and his experience as a war journalist who witnessed on the ground some of the most intense wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon and other places.
In 2016, Mohamed released ‘The Marriott Cell,” book which became a bestseller in Canada. Following this release, Oscar-nominated award-winning director, David Paperny produced the riveting docu-drama, “Mohamed Fahmy – Half Free,” which ran on CBC and is now available on Amazon. This special production followed Fahmy and his wife and documented his life in Vancouver as a free man trying to live a normal life while fighting for the freedom of other journalists through his foundation after being unjustly captured in prison.
During his tenure teaching at UBC, Fahmy wrote a regular column at the Toronto Star where he shared his global experience with a wider audience.
From his arrest, incarceration in Cairo’s Scorpion maximum security with a broken shoulder, two internationally broadcast show trials described globally as a “travesty of justice” and his eventual release, hear everything from Mohamed Fahmy himself.
In this incredible keynote, renowned international journalist Mohamed Fahmy shares the story of his wrongful imprisonment. Despite the adverse conditions and permanent arm injury he suffered while in solitary confinement, Mohamed kept his head high and focused on winning back his freedom.
Through the valiant efforts of his attorney Amal Clooney and support from her husband actor George Clooney who called for his release on the red carpet of the Toronto Film Festival, the efforts of the star couple became a public relations crisis for the Egyptian government as more and more international press covered the case. Fahmy shares with the audience the secret plans he orchestrated with his star lawyer and his wife Marwa, an effort he described as “game changing.” In his battle for freedom Fahmy was shocked about the power of global social media campaign, which garnered millions of supporters worldwide who advocated for his freedom and even more shocked at the thousands of people who signed petitions and organized vigils calling for his release. This unprecedented movement reminded Fahmy that he was not just fighting for his freedom but for a bigger cause, championing freedom of speech globally.
Mohamed was finally able to return home to Canada. It was not an easy path, but one of bravery and determination. Listen to the full incredible story about Mohamed’s fight for freedom and the case that drew the attention of the world right from the source.
Since 2017, Mohamed Fahmy has shifted his focus to championing human rights. He has made strides to work in the field of social justice, even forming his own small organization, the Fahmy Foundation.
In this keynote, Fahmy offers audiences important lessons he learned during his own battle for freedom, including the power of social media. His team at the foundation works to launch social media campaigns for prisoners who are unjustly imprisoned and facing human rights abuses. Social media has the power to inspire large global movements, reaching even the farthest corners of the world to come in unity for good causes.
Your audiences will be captivated by the inspirational stories Mohamed will share about the prisoners still behind bars and their families who are fighting for the freedom of their loved ones.
As a reporter, Mohamed Fahmy realized how the ruthless actions of specific terrorist groups and authoritative governments affect the basic human rights of the average person. During his multi-decade career, he has experienced and viewed horrible wars and the terrible living conditions of those affected by terrorist groups.
Fahmy believes that human rights should not be a privilege, but a right for all. At the Fahmy Foundation, Mohamed Fahmy specializes in the human rights violation committed by the the Iranian regime against Western-Iranians who are regularly jailed when they visit their families in Iran. These individuals are charged with fabricated offenses, endure sever torture and are forced to make false confessions on television. Innocent prisoners are left to rot in inhumane conditions in prisons, many without the chance to meet lawyers, communicate with their families or share truth about charges brought against them.
In this keynote, Fahmy addresses the much-needed support for the prisoners. He shares the deliberate reasons why the Iranian regime targets those with Western passports, as means of bargaining with Western governments for winning political gain. He also tells stories and lessons he has learned from their families and lawyers, as to how your audience can help make a difference by even supporting these innocent prisoners by social media, participate in a vigil or even sign a petition.
The Fahmy Foundation has been focusing on the human rights violations committed by the Houthis, a dangerous and ruthless militant group ruining the lives of Yemeni people. Yemen currently faces one of the “worst humanitarian crisis in a generation.” Mohamed Fahmy is educating audiences worldwide about the horrible crisis, and sharing the stories of journalists, activists, and civilians in general in Yemen who are facing grave human rights violations on the ground on the hands of the Houthi terrorists who are heavily supported by Iran. Fahmy talks about an exclusive recent interview his foundation’s team conducted with four Yemeni journalists unjustly sentenced to death by a Houthi court. He speaks about the details of the torture techniques they endured. He luckily caught up with them during their medical trip in Cairo after they were rescued and released through a rare UN brokered a prisoner exchange with Houthi fighters. Fahmy speaks about four other Yemeni journalists who are also still unjustly jailed in Houthi prisons facing a death sentence as he rallies the public, the UN, and works with other organizations before it is too late and those four innocent journalists are executed.
In this educational keynote, Mohamed Fahmy raises awareness of the crimes committed by the Houthis who use child soldiers and blocks UN aid from reaching starving civilians and plant enormous amounts of sea and landmines all over Yemen. He hopes to encourage people to spread the message of this war-stricken nation and its dying population.
Dive deep inside the realities of the dangers of journalism with Mohamed Fahmy.
Egypt’s arrest of Mohamed Fahmy and his two colleagues is symptomatic of a growing trend where journalists are used as pawns in a geopolitical game. They are forced to fight for their personal freedom and for the freedom of speech that underpins the integrity of their profession.
In one of his unique talks, referring to his experience as a former Red Cross employee, journalist and political prisoner, Fahmy focuses on the current unprecedented global clampdown on the press in the context of anecdotes from his own ordeal. In addition, he incorporates and explains the nature of the advocacy he applies in his newly founded non-governmental organization in Canada. He explains the most challenging aspect of his job which is dealing with families of jailed loves one’s who come to him as a former prisoner looking for answers. He regularly finds himself speaking on behalf of families who have loved one’s unjustly jailed but are too shy to speak in front of the camera or to the media.
The Fahmy Foundation formed a partnership with Amnesty-Canada in 2016 to produce a Protection Charter written by both parties and several associates. The charter stems from the torture, ill-treatment and unjust trial Mr. Fahmy endured in Egypt during his incarceration. The 12-clause document was signed by scores of former Canadian prisoners who experienced ill-treatment in prisons outside of Canada, human rights experts, lawyers, and most definitely by Mr. Gar Pardy, a former Canadian diplomat and former director general of consular affairs who has been calling for similar reforms stated in the charter.
Mr. Fahmy and Mr. Alex Neve the head of Amnesty met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and members of the Canadian consular affairs team on separate occasions in Ottawa in 2016. They presented the charter hoping to highlight the main aim which is to better protect Canadian citizens jailed abroad facing human rights abuses. At the time of the meetings there were 1,376 Canadians jailed abroad according to Global Affairs Canada.
Clause one of the charters represents the basis of the charter. It calls on the Canadian government to enshrine a law that obligates the government to intervene when a Canadian is jailed abroad. Unfortunately, at the current state the government intervention is ‘not’ an obligation. The intervention is at the discretion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The revelation that Mr. Fahmy learned in his dingy cell while battling for his freedom shocked him when he learned that countries such as the US, the UK, Brazil, South-Africa, Mexico, Germany and many nations of the European Union have a legislation in place or a law that obligates their government to intervene to attempt to free the prisoner.
Historically, on the world stage Canada has developed a reputation for supporting and advancing human rights. But Fahmy’s story also focuses on recent government legislation, like Bill C-51, which he believes threatens basic civil liberties.
Mohamed Fahmy discusses the “Media Trial of the Century” and his incredible ordeal. He explains what it takes to survive solitary confinement, the spiritual techniques he used to survive a cell with no sunlight, no way of telling time and a cell infested with insects, with a whole in the ground representing a toilet. He makes the audience wonder what they would have done if they were in his position. He shares what it’s like to be imprisoned with hardened extremists, being isolated from home and family and offers unparalleled insights into the motivations of Islamic insurgents.
He explains how press freedoms and media ethics are threatened by some states, endangered by media organizations and militant groups who no longer respect the word “PRESS” written on bullet-proof jackets and cars of journalists to indicate the neutrality of the journalist. Fahmy speaks of the specific global life-changing campaigns that literally saved famous prisoners’ lives by reputable NGOs and well known human rights advocates.
He writes and speaks about the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the Arab revolutions and fall of Arab dictators as a witness from the frontlines—drawing on the success and shortcomings of Western foreign policies in the Middle East.
His unique knowledge as a Canadian-Egyptian, coupled with years of experience as a journalist, human rights advocate, and political prisoner engrossed in the politics of the Middle East allowed him to understand both cultures. This mix of cultures helped him report the nuances of the journalism craft as he bared witness to history. In Fahmy’s speeches he never forgets to mention his colleagues who died on the field while doing their job like his friend American-Jewish journalist Stefan Sotloff who visited him in Cairo a day before he travelled to Syria and was eventually kidnapped and beheaded by ISIS in 2014.
Fahmy suffered first hand from the use of the “war on terror” as an excuse to clampdown on civil liberties. He intends to share his insights on the current situation of global terrorism while building on his first-hand experience with Jihadists whom he interviewed in prison and on his own personal reporting in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt among other troubled hotspots.
Fahmy continues to analyze the politics of the Middle East, which left him a pawn in a geopolitical rift between heads of states. His current three-year research into the atrocities of Iran and the Houthis is invaluable especially that mainstream media does not cover most of the crimes committed by those murderous regimes and militant groups.
In his quest to turn his imprisonment into an achievement rather an impediment he speaks about his quest to improve consular services provided to Canadians imprisoned abroad or risking arrest. He is currently working with civil society groups in Canada on developing and introducing a bill to parliament in hopes of enshrining a law that obligates the Canadian government to intervene when one of its own is jailed abroad.
Fahmy and Mr. Alex Neve the former head of Amnesty announced the Protection Charter in Ottawa in 2016 and are still pursuing the current liberal government to pass a law that better protects Canadians jailed abroad.