Skip to main content

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."


Popular posts from this blog

Whatever democracy the Palestinians had is dying

Almost a desperate cry from a well-known, respected and sober moderate Palestinian.

Mustafa Barghouthi is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He was a candidate for the Palestinian presidency in 2005.

He writes in a piece "The Slow Death of Palestinian Democracy" on FP:

"Palestinian municipal elections were supposed to be held last week. Instead, they were canceled. A statement released by the Palestinian Authority claimed the cancellation was "in order to pave the way for a successful end to the siege on Gaza and for continued efforts at unity" between Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, and the government in the West Bank.

The cancellation of this election was an unjustified, unlawful, and unacceptable act. It damages democratic rights and makes a mockery of the interests of the Palestinian people.

But this is far more than an internal Palestinian issue. The only lasting peace between Isr…

Big Brother alive and well in the USA in 2007

The so-called "war on terror" has shown itself up in a multitude of manifestations. The most dangerous thing has been governments using the "excuse" of the war to restrict certain civil liberties, allowing government agencies to pursue a variety of things that they would otherwise would not - and should not - be allowed to do and gathering, and retaining, a variety of information on its citizens.

The Washington Post reports on the latest incursions into civil liberties of all Americans:

"The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as lo…