Egyptian human rights leaders meet Obama

Egyptian human rights leaders meet Obama

The delegation included Bahi Eddin Hassan, Director of the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies and Gamal Eid, Director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

The Conference was organized by Freedom House and Human Rights First, in collaboration with four regional organizations, including the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies and three other organizations representing Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Hassan delivered a speech during the opening session of the conference, where he addressed the problems of freedom of expression and human rights defenders in the Arab world and gave examples of such cases, as Egyptian blogger Karim Amer – who is currently serving a jail sentence for defaming Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – Massad Abu Fagr – a Sinai writer – from Egypt, Muhannad al-Hasani from Syria, and others from Yemen, Sudan and Tunisia.

Hassan told local reporters that the general line of discussion held during a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House on Friday, “was a critique of US policy with regard to human rights in Egypt and the Arab region.”

Hassan added that he told Obama that the Arab World believes that the American administration favors the  governments in the Middle East and “there is a gap between Cairo speech and reality,” citing the example of Palestine and the rejection of the Goldstone report, which pointed to Israeli and Hamas violations during the 2008-2009 war in Gaza.

He also said he cited the unconditional support provided by Washington to the “corrupt regime in Yemen, as well as the United States’ support for the proposed amendments to the NGO law in Egypt.”

He explained that the comments of President Obama to the interventions, to ensure that the 8-month period after the speech in Cairo was not enough to judge the American policy, stressing that he was  “an ally of human rights defenders in the world,” noting that sometimes there were some obstacles due to policy and governance considerations.

Hasan relayed  that the U.S. president stressed that the most difficult task for him at the present moment was  the fight against terrorism.

Back in Cairo, the meeting took on little notice, as activists were preoccupied by the arrival of former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who is largely seen as Egypt’s hope for a new future. Hundreds of his supporters gathered at the Cairo International Airport on Friday to welcome the Egyptian back to the country for a brief 10-day visit.

BM