Egyptian, Arab lawmakers denounce European Parliament’s statement on human rights

Amr Kandil , Saturday 19 Dec 2020

The Arab Parliament speaker urged the European Parliament to respect Egypt’s sovereignty

European Parliament in Strasbourg, France (Photo: Reuters)
European Parliament in Strasbourg, France (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian House of Representatives and Senate members have harshly denounced the statement issued last week by the European Parliament deploring the human rights situation in Egypt, arguing that the statement was based on groundless information.

The European Parliament last week said it deplores, once again and in the strongest possible terms, what it considered to be "the continued and intensifying crackdown" on fundamental rights and, among others, the "persecution" of human rights defenders, lawyers and civil society in Egypt.

The statement urged Egyptian authorities to drop all charges against senior Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) activists Gasser Abdel-Razek, Karim Ennarah and Mohamed Basheer, formerly arrested in Egypt and released on bail.

The pro-government Mostaqbal Watan Party said the European Parliament’s statement is politicised, subjective and based on double-standards.

The party said the statement “only represented fallacies and inconsequence in terms of the figures it included on what is called ‘enforced disappearance.'”

The party added that most of the cases that were originally reported as enforced disappearances were proven to be of a “terrorist background” and that the “terrorist [Muslim Brotherhood] group stands behind these claims”.

“The European Parliament turned to employ the international law rules for political aims,” the statement read.

“Parts of the European Parliament’s report express a political approach that resulted from some hearing sessions of members of the terrorist [Muslim] Brotherhood group fleeing in some European countries.”

Mostaqbal Watan also blamed the European Parliament’s report for “not addressing the Egyptian state’s efforts in countering terrorism and achieving security to Egyptian citizens.”

It added that “achieving security is part of the human rights stipulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

MP Tarek El-Khouli, secretary of the foreign relations committee of the House of Representatives, rebuked the statement, accusing the European Parliament of “seeking to draw attention.”

He added that “all what is issued by [the European Parliament] is no more than a non-binding opinion of the member states.

“I advise you to look for human rights [practices] in the member states of your parliament, as you have disasters that are a crying shame,” El-Khouli added, without mentioning certain practices in any of the European countries.

Pro-human rights efforts

Parliament’s head of the African affairs committee Tarek Radwan responded to the statement by giving examples of Egypt’s pro-human rights efforts, including facing illegal immigration, countering terrorism locally, regionally and internationally, combating corruption, and other developmental efforts in various fields.

“The [Egyptian] state could alone set the biggest example of respect of human rights, despite countering terrorism… and sought with all its might to prove that resisting terrorism is part of human rights,” Radwan said in a statement.

The European Parliament has “ignored the martyrs among officers, army personnel, policemen and martyrs among Egyptian people, [including] Muslims and Christians, men and women, old people and children,” Radwan said, referring to terrorism victims.

The European Parliament “forgot or ignored the burning of 120 churches, the explosion of mosques even during the Friday prayers, victimising around 320 martyrs of different ages.”

The Wafd Party

Also responding to the statement, Yasser El-Hodeiby, deputy head of Egypt’s Wafd Party, said Egypt is one of the countries with the largest number of human rights organisations, including the National Council for Human Rights.

“There is another principle that is more important and that should not be ignored, which is the privacy of human rights,” El-Hodeiby said.

He added that this privacy differs from a state to another, based on the difference in laws, customs, and religion of each country.

Arab Parliament

Arab Parliament Speaker Adel Abdul-Rahman Al-Asoumi voiced categorical rejection of the statement, urging the European Parliament to reconsider its stance and respect Egypt’s sovereignty.

He also urged in a statement avoiding politicising the human rights issue and using it as a pretext to interfere in Egypt’s domestic affairs.

Al-Asoumi said the European Parliament’s statement contained “false allegations that are based on suspicious reports and false information,” in a “flagrant” violation against Egypt.

He also rejected the “unacceptable terms and arrogant tone” in the European Parliament’s statement, “in dealing with a major sovereign country like Egypt, which is a member of the United Nations.”

Al-Asoumi called on the European Parliament to adopt a constructive approach to reach a mutual ground for positive dialogue with the Arab Parliament.

He also urged the European Parliament to be “at the level of responsibility and diplomacy” required by the common interests and strategic relations between the European Union and Arab states.

Egypt’s House of Representatives and Senate rebuked the European Parliament statement as well.

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