Oscar winner and four-time Emmy winner Helen Hunt is the target of condemnation by Egyptian activists for participating in a government-organized youth conference that the activists say whitewashes authorities’ track record of human rights violations and suppression of free speech, The New York Post’s Page Six reports.
An open letter condemning Hunt, from well-known human rights advocates including Mona Seif, had accumulated almost 300 signatures as of this afternoon, the story reports.
“They included Mohamed Zaree, who last month won the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, and Aida Seif el-Dawla, whose Nadeem Center treats victims of torture and trauma and was shuttered by the government earlier this year,” The Post reports, adding: “The letter follows a flurry of online criticism against this week’s ‘World Youth Forum,’ hosted under the patronage of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, 62, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Hunt, 54, was a keynote speaker at the opening ceremony.”
The report adds: “The event’s official Twitter hashtag #WeNeedToTalk has become a battleground for opposing viewpoints, with critics overwhelming the thread with images of Egyptian police beating and chasing down youths during el-Sissi’s rule alongside portraits of young jailed activists.”
The report quotes a portion of the letter to Hunt that reads: “This isn’t just any forum that you chose to endorse. This is a youth forum with the slogan ‘We Need To Talk’ called for by a dictator who cannot stand any form of opposition or real criticism. He jails journalists for doing their jobs, youth for expressing their opinions, writers for writing fiction that violates ‘public morality,’ gays for coming out, supporters of LGBTQ for daring to support diversity, and he has blocked more than 400 different websites and media platforms.”