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Ohio State alumnus’ hunger strike continues past 250 days during imprisonment in Egypt

Mohamed Soltan appeared in court on May 11, 2014 and gave a speech defending his right to a fair trial and decision to protest through a hunger strike. In this photo, Soltan was on day 105 of his hunger strike and had lost 99 pounds from his original weight.

Mohamed Soltan appeared in court on May 11 and gave a speech defending his right to a fair trial and decision to protest through a hunger strike. In this photo, Soltan was on day 105 of his hunger strike and had lost 99 pounds from his original weight. Credit: Free Soltan campaign

An Ohio State graduate who has been imprisoned in Egypt for more than a year is nearing death after being on a hunger strike for more than 250 days, according to close friend of the graduate.

Mohamed Soltan, a dual American-Egyptian citizen who graduated from OSU in 2012 with a degree in economics, was arrested in Egypt in August 2013 after the military coup and overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi. Morsi’s time in office was filled with political unrest amongst citizens, despite him being the first democratically elected Egyptian president.

President Hosni Mubarak had been overthrown during an Egyptian revolution in 2011.

Soltan was participating in a Muslim Brotherhood-led protest in a square in Cairo in August 2013 to defend democracy before he was shot in the arm. As many as 900 people were killed in the square that day, according to The New York Times.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the Islamic political party Morsi represented.

Soltan was later arrested in his home while recovering from surgery to remove the bullet.

The Free Soltan campaign promotes Soltan’s release on social media and an awareness website.

In an effort to fight for his freedom, Soltan began a hunger strike more than 250 days ago. He is given water with small amounts of sugar, Masoud Nafey, a member of the Free Soltan campaign and close friend, said.

“He will not allow Egypt’s injustice system to take his life. He will fight for his and others’ freedom until his death,” Nafey said.

A prison doctor said on Sept. 23 that Soltan had less than a month to live, and medical reports state his condition is continuously deteriorating, Nafey said.. It is now dangerous for him to be transported to court hearings, he said.

The court hearing scheduled for Sept. 23 was postponed until Oct. 11. The hearing will determine how much longer Soltan will remain in prison.

“There is no reason it is being pushed back. There are no charges against him. The judge simply looks at the court number and it is postponed at every hearing due to a lack of a true justice system,” Nafey said.

If the court hearing is extended again, family and friends worry it will mean death, Mohamed’s brother Omar Soltan said.

“People who have surpassed 200 days of a hunger strike anywhere in the world are only able to continue on an IV, and Mohamed isn’t even being allowed to be moved to a hospital,” Omar Soltan said.

As part of the Free Soltan campaign, some in the United Sates have also joined Mohamed Soltan in his hunger strike, including Omar Soltan and OSU alumnus Ammar Alwattar.

“I felt like it was time to take action by joining and standing up against those who are unjust and oppress others. Joining him is just my duty as his brother,” Alwattar said.

The Free Soltan campaign recently held a global Twitter effort to raise awareness and reach the United States government via the hashtag #SaveSoltan.

The Free Soltan campaign also recently spoke with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who told the organization he will do his best to help, said Abderrahmane Amor, a friend of Soltan and second-year in public affairs and Islamic studies.

“The issue is we have a guy who is an American citizen, is Muslim and loves democracy, and nothing is being done for him. At this rate, the trust Muslims have for the U.S. government will cease to exist,” Amor said.

Neither The Embassy of Egypt in Washington, D.C., nor the Department of Homeland Security responded to multiple phone requests for comment since Friday.

Amor said the best way for OSU students to aid in the efforts is to support the Free Soltan campaign through social media and reach out to their state representatives to raise awareness. Nafey said students can also participate in a partial or full hunger strike to show support.

The OSU Muslim Students’ Association held a dinner in support of Soltan. Attendees were encouraged to fast the entire day and attend the dinner to learn about the current situation, Amor said. The organization plans to host a similar event this year. Soltan’s family, friends and members of his campaign hope to see his release prior to his death.

“Our family has been torn part by this. My mother is now in Egypt in order to be near my brother and father. My brother Khaled is working in Qatar, and my eldest sister and youngest sister are in Virginia, living an unstable life and expecting the worst every day, all the time,” Omar Soltan said.

However, Nafey said the family’s faith inspires many.

“They pray and pray and are really in touch with their religious side. This hasn’t been easy on them by any means, but their faith is strong,” Nafey said.





  1. American. Ohio State Graduate. He gets no sympathy from me! The Muslim Brotherhood is fundamentally anti-democratic and anti-Semitic. He’s no different than the hunger strikers in Guantanamo

  2. They talk about him dying as though he has no choice of whether to die or live. As far as I know, no one is refusing him food. If he wants to live, why not just eat?

  3. No sympathies here. The Muslim Brotherhood is repressive to women, anti democratic and another looney branch of Islam radicalism. If he wanted to make a statement, fight against the terror that Muslim Brotherhood unleashed on the Egyptians.

  4. Agree with all of the above. (But why the first guy brings in Democracy and the Jewish issue, I don’t know. The issue is the Muslim Brotherhood are vicious killers bent on dominating and destroying all non-Muslims.)

  5. The religion of peace doing what it does best, i.e., destroying most everything in its wake.

  6. I agree, basically, with all the previous comments. Democracy was brought up and pure democracy, majority plus one rule, is often nothing more than mob rule. The united States was formed and quickly adopted a constitutional republic to secure our “self-evident unalienable” rights. The Muslim brotherhood-led government was moving to impose a tyranny, an Islamic extremist tyranny, upon the people of Egypt. Mohamed Soltan may be admired for his convictions, but I cannot admire nor support government imposed tyranny; not in Egypt and certainly not here in our constitutional republic. Sadly, the Ohio State University no longer educates about, or embraces, our “Organic Law,” inclusive of the Declaration of Independence, Northwest Ordinance, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution. Let us hope Soltan lives and comes to comprehend the error of his worldview and let us hope our republic and Egypt are able to secure and preserve the “Blessings of Liberty.

  7. Hi,

    Mohamed is not actually a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. His father is, but he is not. We all know people who love their fathers but don’t follow them politically. Mohamed’s not a member of any political party. He was in the protest as a citizen journalist and was actually standing next to an Al Jazeera reporter who was killed.

    The best way to support him is to leave a voicemail with the State Department–+1 202-647-5548 and ask them to push for his release. This is a diplomatic matter, not a security matter.

  8. All you commenters have no idea what you’re saying. Mohammad Soltan was at a MP rally but is no one of their members, and when asked did not identify himself as someone who is part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Even if he was, what he believes should not spell death, and you people who claim to stand for American values are completely contradicting yourselves by saying abhorrent and cruel things like “no sympathies”. Anyone who is incarcerated for no reason because of peaceful protesting, no matter what it the issue is, should not face prison. Additionally, before you dismissively throw this story aside maybe do a little bit of research into what Egyptian prison is like. Hypocritical morons.

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