Egypt’s House of Representatives devoted a large part of its morning plenary session on Sunday to discussing the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) statement released on the country’s human rights record on Friday.
The UNHRC’s statement — signed mostly by European countries, as well as the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada — voiced concern about freedom of expression, specifically citing the arrest of three staff members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) last year and criticising what it described as the arrest of political opponents.
Parliament speaker Hanafy El-Gebaly gave the floor to a large number of MPs to respond to the UNHRC’s statement and condemn what they called the West’s repeated attempts of using the human rights agenda to meddle into the internal affairs of other countries.
Tarek Radwan, head of parliament’s Human Rights Committee, rejected the UNHRC’s statement as being full of inaccurate and biased information.
“As the UNHRC’s statement took the information about the human rights record in Egypt from unreliable sources and reckless groups, it became inaccurate and politicised,” said Radwan, adding that “it was better for UNHRC’s officials to come to Egypt and review the record of human rights in Egypt by themselves rather than take the information from unreliable and misguided sources.”
Radwan said some of the countries which signed the statement have a very poor record on human rights.
“There are many reports about human rights abuses, particularly racial discrimination and police brutality, in these countries, but the problem is that they always like to act as a judge on human rights in other countries,” said Radwan.
Radwan said Egypt would present its own statement at the UNHRC to respond to all the western countries’ “unfounded claims” about its human rights record.
Alaa Abed, head of parliament’s Transport Committee and deputy speaker of the Arab Parliament, said the UNHRC lacked transparency and objectivity.
“It was written in general terms, and most of its content was based on old, incomplete, and inaccurate information.”
Abed said the EIPR’s officials were released a long time ago, and it was decided that the EIPR would file with the Ministry of Social Solidarity as an NGO.
“So, what is wrong about this and why is all of this fuss being considered a grave violation of human rights,” said Abed.
Independent MP Mostafa Bakry said “the UNHRC’s statement is a completely politicised.”
“Not to mention that the statement mentions the rights of gays, even though the UNHRC knows quite well that these kinds of rights go against the religious values of the Egyptian people,” said Bakry adding that “it is also not correct that political opponents in Egypt are being vandalised.”
Bakry said, “let’s be clear that the UNHRC’s statement took the information about the human rights record in Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood and western human rights organisations with radical leftist agendas.”
“These organizations see the detainment of leaders of a terrorist organisation like the Muslim Brotherhood as a human rights abuse, and even ask for the integration of this organisation into the political process,” Bakry continued, describing the UNHRC’s statement as “a call for spreading chaos and instability.”
Soliman Wahdan, the parliamentary spokesperson of Al-Wafd Party, said the UNHRC’s politicised and biased report aims to exert pressure on the Egyptian state to release terrorists who stormed mosques and churches and spread chaos everywhere in Egypt.
Magdy Malak, a Christian MP, urged the state and parliament not to give much attention to reports and statements released by radical western human rights organisations about Egypt.
“Egypt decided to revolt against religious fanaticism on 30 June 2013, and it will never be intimidated to give room to extremist and terrorist organisations again,” said Malak.
In a counter statement on Saturday, Egypt’s parliament strongly condemned the UNHRC’s statement, describing it as “highly politicised, unbalanced, biased, and destructive.”
“The UNHRC’s report is based on lies, unfounded claims, and misleading accusations, and as it is a member of the United Nations, it was better for the UNHRC to be more objective and see that Egypt is living in a volatile region, facing a lot of violent and terrorist organisations trying their best to wreak havoc and spread chaos,” said Egypt’s parliament.
The statement added that “the UNHRC’s report also reflects western double standards, as some of the countries which signed it are heavily involved in several human rights abuses such as racial discrimination and torture.”
“Please stop using double standards to exert political pressure and secure objectives that have no relation to human rights,” said Egypt’s parliament.