Egypt and EU trade human rights barbs

Egypt and EU trade human rights barbs

The Egyptian government has said it might call off planned political talks with Europe next week. In a tit-for-tat reaction to a European Parliament resolution on human rights, the foreign ministry said: “Egypt is deeply concerned at the deteriorating state of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities and immigrants on the European continent.”

The European Parliament”s resolution called on Cairo “to end all forms of harassment, including judicial measures, detention of media professionals and, more generally, human rights defenders and activists.”

It called for the immediate release of opposition politician Ayman Nour. He was a candidate in Egypt”s first multi-party presidential elections in 2005, challenging Hosni Mubarak, who has held the office since 1981.

Nour was sentenced to five years in prison in the same year, on widely criticised charges that he falsified documents to found a political party. Michael Emerson, at the Center for European Policy Studies assesses the context of Mubarak”s rule: “I would say the Egyptian case is pretty bad by North African standards. He (Hosni Moubarak) is a five-star autocrat and indeed he is suppressing expression of different democratic political party preferences.”

In the European Parliament democratic assembly, fewer than 60 members were present for the vote on the human rights resolution on Thursday, out of a total of 785 parliamentarians.