This week Egypt is in focus, with the brutal murder of Khaled Mohamed Saeed by Egyptian police and the questions involving whether his death will be accounted for.
In the midst of that debate, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a human rights activist living in exile in the United States, published an op-ed in the Washington Post critizing President Obama for being “friendly” with tyrants, i.e. Mubarak. He raises the question:
Why has Obama distanced himself from his predecessor’s support for democracy
promotion? One unsurprising outcome is that the regime in Egypt has reverted to
wholesale imprisonment and harassment of political dissidents.
Saeed’s murder puts this into relief, as does Ibrahim’s own history. Ibrahim was imprisoned for three years on politically motivated charges, based on his human rights activism. Human Rights First was actively involved in his case and awarded him our annual human rights award in 2002 for his courageous work (accepted by his wife, since he was still in prison at the time).
President Obama made strong promises to the Middle East in his Cairo speech. Meanwhile, Egypt is sliding–imprisonment, harassment, and murder are not things to be ignored. Now is the time to follow up on that speech.