An Egyptian-Western debate over the imprisonment of activists… Does Cairo have other accounts?

Cairo- The Egyptian authorities showed a firm and tough stance towards the recent US and German statements regarding the trial of a number of well-known civil society activists, and considered them an unacceptable interference in the affairs of the Egyptian judiciary, which it described as “independent and impartial.”

Over the past few days, a rare quarrel between Cairo on the one hand and Washington and Berlin on the other, ignited by issuing strongly worded statements from the three parties, but in the end they were no more than mere statements and did not result in any change in the current position of the human rights file in Egypt.

Why did Egypt decide to resort to a language that some described as “confrontational” in its response to what it called foreign interference in its internal affairs? Does it have other accounts? Is what it issued a move against the international trend regarding the controversial human rights file, in light of its reassurance about the country’s conditions and stability internally and externally?

There is no politics in the judiciary

A few days ago, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry rejected US criticism of its country’s judiciary after issuing prison sentences and financial fines against political activists, two days after a similar controversy with the German Foreign Ministry over the same issue.

This came in a comment by Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez, in response to a question about the US State Department’s criticism of a court ruling of varying prison terms against prominent political activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, lawyer and human rights activist Mohammed Al-Baqer, and blogger Mohammed Ibrahim, known as “Oxygen.”

Last Monday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed his country’s disappointment with prison sentences issued by the Egyptian judiciary against a number of political activists, and said that Washington discussed human rights issues with Cairo on an ongoing basis, and informed it that relations between the two countries could be improved if they were achieved. progress on human rights.

On the other hand, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected the US condition, saying: “It is not permissible to address such judicial issues in any political frameworks, or link them to the course of relations between the two countries, because of the unjustified complications that this entails.”

The Egyptian authorities justify their refusal of such statements by saying that “it is not at all appropriate to comment in any way on or refer to rulings issued by the judiciary in implementation of laws and based on irrefutable and conclusive evidence and evidence within the framework of a fair, impartial and independent judicial process,” according to the statement of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

In the same context, Germany had called before the verdict hearing – through a statement by its embassy in Cairo – the Egyptian authorities to release the three activists, and said that “lawyers may not be punished for practicing their professional activity, and that freedom of expression is the basis of social peace,” which it responded The Egyptian Foreign Ministry rejected him, considering him a blatant interference in the country’s internal affairs.

legitimate international demands

In this context, the head of the Egyptian-American Dialogue Center, Dr. Abdel Mawgoud Al-Dardari, considered that “the recent Western statements are not interference, because the major countries have international legitimacy when it comes to a widespread violation of human rights in a country, especially since it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, But the current regime enjoys the support of powerful and pressure lobbies in the United States, and it is wrong to interpret these statements as affecting the sovereignty of Egypt.”

In statements to Al-Jazeera Net, Al-Dardari added that there is another right for these countries, as they are the ones who supported this regime and continued to support it economically and militarily and turned a blind eye to “many horrific violations documented by international and local organizations, and condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Council,” noting that These Western demands are too late, but better than remaining silent.

Al-Dardiri said that he had hoped “that Western administrations would be characterized by impartiality and justice in demanding the release of all opponents in prison, without conditions and without discrimination on partisan, ideological or other grounds,” noting that “these pressures will bear fruit, sooner or later, this regime has come With external support in the first place, and therefore will take into account those demands,” as he put it.

Volatile American positions

For his part, Amr Ahmed, director of research at the Freedom Initiative (based in Washington), believes that “the fluctuating American policies over the past years towards Egypt, a perception of the Egyptian decision-maker that the human rights file is not important to it.”

Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Ahmed stressed that the demand for justice and freedom for the unjustly detained is always a legitimate claim, regardless of the student, considering that “the decisions of the Egyptian judiciary are politicized and lack fair trial standards, and talking about the integrity of the judiciary should take a greater place among the demands directed at the regime and in the public debate. ‘, as he put it.

For his part, the director of the Shehab Center for Human Rights, Khalaf Bayoumi, refused to say that Western pressures did not succeed, pointing out that all precedents confirmed the inability of the Egyptian authorities to reject Western requests, citing several issues such as the release of activist Aya Hegazy in implementation of the request of former US President Donald Trump.

Bayoumi considered that the last Egyptian position is a temporary measure to save face, and its reason may be the statement of the German Foreign Ministry that preceded the ruling session.

contradictory signals

This tension in the human rights file comes at a time when the Egyptian authorities sent many positive signals during the last period, but they remained limited in effect by launching a new national strategy for human rights, canceling the state of emergency imposed in the country for more than 30 years, and releasing a limited number Among the civil society activists, the last of them was the human rights researcher Patrick George, two years after his arrest.

Cairo faces local and international criticism regarding the imprisonment of opponents and restrictions on them in prisons, and the review of rights and public freedoms, but it denies such accusations, and affirms that it respects the law and the constitution with regard to the file of rights and freedoms.

In view of these contradictory signals, Magdy Hamdan, a member of the Egyptian Conservative Party, described his country’s response as confrontational, saying, “There must have been a sophisticated political response to these statements, and I think that the intransigence that currently exists is due to the position of the administration of US President Joe Biden on President Sisi.”

In statements to Al Jazeera Net, Hamdan rejected what he considered intransigence on the part of the Egyptian authorities with the international position, adding that the detainees’ file should not be a bargaining chip nor a tactical step, and we should not forget that there is a Western position against Egypt over the killing of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni several years ago. Years, and there should have been statesmanship in dealing with such issues.

The Egyptian politician attributed the lack of this skill to the fact that the authorities’ current methodology is not a political and diplomatic one in dealing with accusations coming from the West in the human rights file, but what happened is a debate and the opposite is the opposite, pointing out that the Western world considers that what is taking place is a trial of opinion in Egypt and not It affects specific people and affects rights and freedoms, and contradicts the National Human Rights Strategy launched by President El-Sisi.

fear of explosion

In turn, the cassation lawyer and former member of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Egyptian Parliament, Mamdouh Ismail, said, “There is no doubt that the state of political tyranny worries the West, but it is not from tyranny itself, but rather for fear that the congestion will lead to a revolutionary explosion that overthrows the Egyptian regime and the interests of the West.”

And Ismail, in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, considered that Western criticism is not directed at the Sisi regime, but they are keen on stabilizing their interests in the region, as they are calling for venting only for secular, leftist and liberal activists, and not for the majority of the opposition from Islamists, as he described it.

The lawyer, who is currently residing outside Egypt, pointed out that Cairo’s response is a message that tyranny is the best fit to rule Egypt, and that the political debate is resolved in closed rooms and is governed by special interests in the end.

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