French President Raises Concerns About Egypt
February 11, 2002
By Jon ben Asher, London
PARIS—Egypt’s major human
rights group says it will not speak out on behalf of gays.
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights admits it has
let gays down but it claims to have no public mandate to protect them.
“What could we do? Nothing. If we were to uphold this
issue, this would be the end of what remains of the concept of human rights in
Egypt,” said Hisham Kassem, the organisation’s director.
“We let [gays] down, but I don’t have a mandate from
the people, and I don’t want the West to set the pace for the human rights
movement in Egypt.”
Kassem’s statement came as Egyptian president Hosni
Mubarak was receiving criticism in Europe for the country’s persecution of
In Paris, French President, Jacques Chirac, has raised
the issue of Egypt’s treatment of gays during meetings with Mubarak.
French gay groups, including ACT UP Paris, protested
against the state visit of Mubarak outside the Elysée Palace.
Following the meeting, Chriac’s office issue a
statement saying that the President had expressed “sadness and concern to
Mubarak about the imprisonment of gays in Egypt.”
Last year 23 men were sentenced to prison terms with hard
labour for “sexual immorality”. In January 8 more men were arrested.
Chirac’s press communiqué said that, “without
wishing to interfere in Egyptian affairs, he hoped the men could be
Activists said Mubarak should not have been given
permission to enter France, and criticized Chirac for not being more forceful.
The sentences, and subsequent arrests in Egypt have drawn
[Home] [World] [Egypt]