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Sunday, 29 July 2018

Negative coverage on Egypt’s human rights leads the conversation in the foreign press

Negative coverage on Egypt’s human rights leads the conversation in the foreign press: Topping coverage of Egypt in the foreign press this morning is a court’s decision yesterday to sentence 75 Ikhwan members to death over their involvement in the 2013 Rabaa sit-in. The defendants include Essam El Erian, Mohamed Beltagy, and Safwat Hegazy, according to Reuters. The decision is not final and can still be appealed. The court has referred the ruling to the Grand Mufti to give his opinion on the case — which is legally required, albeit non-binding, BBC notes. Haaretz and Xinhua also have the story.

Meanwhile, a debate is being waged in the foreign press over the US decision last week to unfreeze USD 195 mn in military aid to Egypt it suspended last year. Leading the charge against the decision was the New York Times. With the move, the State Department has practically given Egypt a thumbs up on human rights while its jail population has continued to swell, writes Declan Walsh. “The aid decision reflects the new tenor of American foreign policy under Mr. Pompeo and the national security adviser, John R. Bolton, who have shown a willingness to trade American leadership on human rights for an embrace of friendly autocrats,” he writes. David Kirkpatrick echoes similar sentiments on the state of human rights in Egypt, while extending the accusation of the US government’s disinterest in human rights in Egypt to the Obama administration.

The US should leverage Egypt’s dependence on military aid to press it on the human rights issue, says Bran Dooley on the Hill. Dooley says that withholding the aid had proven effective, citing a retrial ordered by Egyptian authorities on the foreign funding case, which saw 43 employees of foreign NGOs sentenced to up to five years in jail.

Foreign Ministry’s Abu Zaid with the counter argument: Asharq Al Awsat is running statements by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zaid where he saus the decision reflects the “importance and specificity” of Egypt-US relations. The move comes “in light of Washington’s recognition of the importance of the Egyptian role in promoting [the] stability of the Middle East,” Abu Zeid said.

More negative coverage: This comes as Human Rights Watch denounced the release of the aid, saying in a statement on Thursday that it “[sends] the wrong message” to Egypt on its human rights record. Meanwhile, UN human rights experts are calling on Egyptian authorities to release songwriter Galal El Behairy, who faces imprisonment for criticizing government policies in his songs, according to UN News. Finally, the Guardian’s Ruth Michaelson attacked the Press and Media Act, saying that it would stifle dissent by criminalizing fake news.

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