Last edited: January 04, 2005

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 gays..

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 released.”

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 international condemnation.

[Home] [World] [Egypt]