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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

'Egypt supports human rights groups, but not at expense of national security,' says political party leader

Khalil issued the statement days after officials at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights held a meeting with a number of Western European ambassadors serving in Egypt

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 23 Nov 2020
Free Egyptians Party
Free Egyptians Party
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Essam Khalil, chairman of the Free Egyptians Party, said in a statement on Monday that the political community in Egypt fully supports the activities of civil society and human rights organisations operating in the country.

"We fully support the efforts and activities of these organisations, and completely appreciate their role in raising the awareness of human rights issues in Egypt and meeting the needs of ordinary citizens," said Khalil.

However, he said that "the political community in Egypt completely rejects any of these organisations violating the laws regulating their performance."

"They should abide by the laws regulating their activities as long as they are operating in Egypt."

He noted that most of civil society and human rights organisations doing business in Egypt adhere to the country’s laws.

"But some of these, particularly those who obtain money from foreign sources, choose to violate these laws in the form of holding meetings with foreign diplomats or working as a front for terrorist and outlawed organisations," said Khalil, adding that "such activities are harmful to the country's national security and interests."

Khalil issued the statement days after officials at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) held a meeting on 3 November with a number of Western European ambassadors serving in Egypt.  

Mohamed Bashir, the executive director of EIPR, was arrested on 15 November on terrorism charges, according to local media.

On Wednesday, Karim Ennarah, the head of the group's criminal justice department, was also reportedly arrested.

On Thursday, director of the EIPR Gasser Abdel-Razek was arrested as well.

Following the arrests, a number of Western countries – including France, Sweden, Germany and the US – expressed concerns over the EIPR employees’ arrest over the past few days.

Egypt’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that it “rejects any false speculations or conclusions” regarding the investigation into a number of employees at EIPR, especially since the investigation has not yet concluded.

“With regards to the reported reactions and false conclusions circulating in the media and on social media platforms about the arrest of a number of employees at EIPR, which have been made before the conclusion of the investigations conducted by Egyptian judicial authorities, Egypt rejects any attempt to falsely influence the investigations that the public prosecution conducts with Egyptian citizens who face charges," the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Hafez affirmed in the statement that the Egyptian state respects the principles of the rule of law and equality, adding that the freedom of civil society to operate is guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution and the law.

Civil society work must be regulated by the relevant and applicable laws, and those who violate them must be held accountable, said Hafez, adding that no one is exempt or immune from the law.

Hafez also highlighted the need to respect the principles of national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, as stipulated in the international law that governs relations between states.

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