Rights Group: Egypt Using War to Hide Abuses
October 12, 2001
By Paul Johnson
WASHINGTONInternational human rights groups are
warning the United States to be wary of embracing Egypt in the war against
The groups say it "legitimizes" Egypts own record on rights
and sends the wrong message to the region.
Human Rights Watch said that an alliance with Egypt would be
"Egyptian officials appear to be counting on the U.S. administration
to overlook widespread torture, wholesale jailing of critics, and other forms
of repression as it builds a coalition to respond to the Sept. 11
attacks," Human Rights Watch said.
HRW and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission have
protested the ongoing trial of 52 Egyptian suspected gays prosecuted on
charges of obscenity and insulting religion.
The arrests came during a raid on a riverboat in the Nile that reportedly
functioned as a gay club. They are being tried in a state security court
usually reserved for terrorists, an indication of how Egypt views
The men claim to have been beaten and routinely tortured with cattle prods
in jail. A verdict is expected later this month. The decision of the court
cannot be appealed.
A juvenile has already been sentenced to a term in a youth facility.
Rights groups in Egypt and abroad also have denounced the conviction of an
Egyptian-American human rights activist sentenced in May to seven years in
The activist, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociologist with Egyptian and American
citizenship, was sentenced on charges including tarnishing Egypts image,
embezzlement and accepting foreign money without state approval. The case has
Human Rights Watch earlier protested the arrest of Farid Zahran, a leading
member of the Egyptian Peoples Committee for Solidarity with the
Palestinian Uprising. Zahran was detained Sept. 20 on suspicion of
disseminating information aimed at disturbing public order and of planning
public marches. He was later released.
Emergency laws have been in force in Egypt since the 1981 assassination of
President Anwar Sadat. The government says it needs them to fight Muslim
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