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Egypt kicks its own goal

The so-called trials now underway in Egypt are a sham, a travesty and bear no relationship to a proper judicial process.   The latest judgements relate to, inter alia, a number of Al Jazeera journalists.    The world has been agog - and brought worldwide outrage - that they have been convicted in the first place, let alone the length of the sentences.

As Jess Hill, writing in The Guardian, concludes in her article:

"No Al-Jazeera report could have damaged Egypt’s reputation as much as this sentence. As my Australian-Egyptian colleague Amro Ali observed, there is no bigger threat to the Egyptian state than the Egyptian state."

Hill commences her piece:

"The verdict handed down Monday in the Al-Jazeera trial came as a shock. In a country whose citizens are systematically fed conspiracy theories, three journalists have been jailed for reporting the truth.

We all have so many questions. Was this the decision of one judge, or an order from the top? Egypt's judiciary can be both vindictive and stubborn, but would president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi really leave this ruling to the whim of a public servant? Whether the decision came from the judge alone or not, will Sisi be merciful and bestow a pardon on Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed?

If he does, will it be because of international pressure? As former Human Rights Watch activist Heba Morayef observed, we would not have seen a verdict like this under former president Hosni Mubarak, who was acutely sensitive about his international reputation. Does Sisi care what the west thinks of him? It’s not like this ruling is catering to a domestic audience – the Al-Jazeera trial has barely been covered in Egypt.

Could it really be that these journalists, employed by a network owned by the rulers of Qatar, are just being used as fodder for Egypt’s cold war with the gulf state? Or is it just that the Egyptian court system is paranoid?

A search for logical explanations for the Greste verdict may be fruitless. It’s not just journalism that’s under attack in Egypt: anywhere between 16,000 and 41,000 Egyptians have become political prisoners since former president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown last summer. Many now swelter in tiny concrete cells for months on end without charge, their detention renewed by a judge every 45 days."


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