Egyptian MPs and political parties criticise UN officials for politicising the case of jailed activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 9 Nov 2022

Egyptian MPs and major political parties teamed up on Wednesday to condemn what they called the politicisation of the agenda of human rights during the COP 27 climate change summit which is being held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Egypt parliament. (Al-Ahram)


The MPs remarks came in response to statements released by some members of the UN Human Rights Council in which those members raised concerns about the treatment of jailed activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah.

MPs and political parties also condemned what they termed "the uncivilised reaction" of UN officials towards MP Amr Drawish, who was forbidden to provide clarifications on the case of Alaa Abdel-Fattah.

The parliamentary majority party of Mostaqbal Watan (the Nation's Future) said that it stands against all attempts to use the COP 27 summit to politicise Egypt's agenda on human rights. "The question whether to release or not to release Alaa Abdel-Fattah is a purely internal matter. We reject how some officials have made use of this issue to meddle with the country's justice system," said the party's statement.

"We also reject violating the sovereignty of independent states like Egypt in the name of human rights. No one can decide to release Alaa Abdel-Fattah except the Egyptian judiciary."

The statement also indicated that the Presidential Pardon Committee, which is responsible for submitting recommendations on political activists eligible to receive pardon, is doing a great job.

The statement pointed out, however, that the committee's work is bound by certain rules; most importantly, that it was extremely difficult to release political activists who have been otherwise convicted of inciting violence or terrorism, or who have blood on their hands.

The statement recalled that the Presidential Pardon Committee has released more than 1,000 jailed activists since April. "Most of these were secular opposition figures who were not involved in any terrorist activities or in inciting violence  against policemen and the military – unlike Alaa Abdel-Fattah," said the statement. 

 The statement noted that "one of the country's  major political opposition figures – lawyer Ziad El-Oleimi – was released last month as he was not involved in any terrorist or violence-inciting activities."

El-Oleimi was granted a personal pardon by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi who is authorised by the constitution to give special pardons to jailed persons.

A Mostaqbal Watan party delegation led by its parliamentary spokesperson and deputy chairman Asharaf Rashad left Cairo for Sharm El-Sheikh on Wednesday to discuss climate and human rights issues.

MP and television host Youssef El-Husseini said in a statement that the UN Human Rights Council officials' decision to bar MP Amr Darwish from giving clarifications on the case of jailed activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah violates the basic principles of democracy and freedom of speech.

 "These officials should have listened to what MP Darwish had to say on the case of Abdel-Fattah. This clearly demonstrates an attempt to politicise the human rights agenda and reflects the partiality of these officials ," said El-Husseini.

On Tuesday, El-Husseini, who hosts a TV programme on Egypt's Channel One, adduced tweets that Alaa Abdel-Fattah had written in which he praised the burning of police stations and the slaughtering of police officers.

"This is clear evidence that Abdel-Fattah was involved in acts of inciting violence," said El-Husseini.

Magdi Morshed, deputy chairman of the Congress Party, also criticised the decision of UN human rights officials to expel MP Amr Darwish from a press conference on jailed activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah."This is uncivilized behavior on the part of UN officials. It shows that they use their positions to politicise the human rights agenda and exert pressure on sovereign states," said Morshed.

He added that what happened during the press conference on Abdel-Fattah "raises serious questions on the neutrality and objectivity of the UN Human Rights Council."

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