Egypt Rebuffs European Concern Over Rights
December 3, 2001
CAIRO—The Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament, Ahmed
Fathi Surur, on Friday condemned statements by the European Parliament
expressing concern about human rights violations in Egypt, reports the Agence
The Egyptian weekly Akhbar Al-Yom says Speaker Surur sent a letter to the
president of the Euro Parliament, Nicole Fontaine, prostesting a report by the
committee of foreign affairs which called on the Egyptian government to
respect human rights, to stop judicial procedures against gay citizens and to
cancel the death penalty.
On Thursday the EU approved a proposal to establish a trade-related
Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement with Egypt that deals predominantly
with trade matters but whose language also commits the Egyptian government to
respect human rights and democracy.
The draft of the proposal prepared by the Euro Parliament’s foreign
affairs committee noted "respect for human rights and democratic
principles (are) an ‘essential element’ of the EU-Egypt agreement",
and noted that "the agreement can be suspended if they are
"Parliament also wants to see the abolition of the death penalty and
concern is expressed at the arrest of 52 men on account of their sexual
orientation," said the EP’s report on the vote.
The parliamentarians in the same communique expressed regret that no joint
Egyptian-European committee had been established to guarantee "democratic
scrutiny of the new agreement.
Speaker Surur stated that "the Egyptian Constitution stipulates
respect for the fundamental rights of citizens and the Egyptian government
respects their rights in practice. Only the Egyptian parliament has the right
to monitor the respect of the government" for human rights in the
country, Surur said.
Surur reiterated that "homosexuality does not figure (among crimes) in
Egyptian law," and that "the aforementioned were accused of
debauchery and of contempt for religion."
Twenty-three out of 52 predominantly gay men put on trial before a state
security court following a raid on a Cairo disco were condemned to prison
sentences of between 3 and five years last month.
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