Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


Egypt’s regime brings back old ways of oppression

February 09, 2014

Egyptian media outlets have been circulating the news that the US Congress passed a law that would allow the Obama administration to continue sending military aid to Egypt despite its military coup last summer and the massacres and human rights violations that have followed.

Egyptian state media are proudly interpreting the legislation as US acceptance of the new situation in Egypt, as a welcome return to previous US-Egyptian relations and as US support for all of the new regime's actions.

Just last month, a US congressional delegation visited Egypt. Speaking to local media about the transparency of the recent constitutional referendum, the lawmakers said that Egypt is on the right track toward democracy and freedom and that they are pressing to continue US military aid to the Egyptian government.

The rest of the world, however, saw the recent referendum as one-sided. Egyptians were allowed only to vote “yes”. Anyone with an opposing view was attacked as a traitor who should be arrested or killed.

I remember well the statements of several American officials last summer regarding a US law that prohibits sending foreign assistance to a country after a military coup, under the pretence that US values prohibit support for dictatorial governments.

But Egypt's current trajectory is contrary to the United States' democratic ideals, and official American statements contradict US values. In fact, recent statements suggest that the US supports oppression, just as it supported the Mubarak regime for 30 years.

Even if the Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt in a bad way, the military's arrest of hundreds of youth last month on the anniversary of the 2011 uprising had nothing to do with democracy, freedom or stability.

After the coup, I wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post expressing my deep concerns about the military's intervention in the political arena and the dawn of a new era of terror in Egypt. I feared that I would be arrested and charged with terrorism because I voiced my unhappiness with the regime's actions and its human rights abuses.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened. I was arrested on Nov 30 and sentenced in December to three years in prison — solitary confinement, along with a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds — because I spoke out against a new law banning protest. Two other activists, Mohammed Adel and Ahmed Douma, have been jailed with me. This is blatant revenge by the regime over the revolution that I and other members of the April 6 Youth Movement had the honour of helping to spark in 2011. The military seeks vengeance against any group that had any role in the Jan 25, 2011, revolution that led to the end of the Mubarak regime.

Egypt's military authorities do not know or respect freedom, democracy or human rights. Slowly, the Mubarak regime is coming back to power, and the networks of corruption and oppression are returning. In Egypt today, it is as though there had not been a revolution at all.

As I write from a tightly guarded prison, isolated from the world, I am treated inhumanely. The number of inmates continues to grow, and we have been denied warm clothes, medical treatment and mattresses. The new prisoners are not members of the Muslim Brotherhood but fellow members of revolutionary or liberal movements that oppose military procedures that violate human rights. Also imprisoned are foreign journalists who were doing their jobs — reporting on events in Egypt. Egyptian media are under the control of the military and continue to smear our reputations.

It must be asked: Do American taxpayers support US financing of repression in Egypt? Will the US stand by as dictatorship is restored? Or will Americans stand with the Egyptian people in their ongoing struggle for freedom and democracy?

By arrangement with the Washington Post