Human Rights

Mohamed Salmawy
Saturday 30 Apr 2022

The release of more than 40 pretrial detainees is a significant development concerning the human rights issue in Egypt.

 

For the longest time, western media has not tired of raising and portraying the matter as worse than it actually is.

This does not mean that we don’t have a problem in this respect, for the human rights issue is an existing dilemma in all countries without exception.

Because freedom is not absolute, it is subject to the intellectual frame of thought of every society. For instance, we find in most western countries, clashing with what has been politically established regarding the Jewish Holocaust in Germany and any attempt to subject the matter to objective study is met with penal laws, with offenders facing imprisonment and fines.

The question, then, should not be whether there is a human rights problem in a certain country but about the extent of the guarantees provided by this country for these rights and whether its policies are moving towards restricting them or broadening their scope gradually. I say, gradually, because the absolute broadening overnight is usually deceptive.

We have witnessed in our modern history presidents who — as part of a publicity stunt — burned the recordings of intelligence bodies, announcing the end of surveillance, the establishment of freedoms, and the launch of press freedom. But, surveillance did not cease, freedoms were not established, and the number of newspapers confiscated during his rule reached unprecedented levels.

Today, if we looked to the human rights issue in our new republic, we would find that while the state is striving to secure most of the rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights regarding the provision of a dignified life for citizens, the war that kept running for years against the phenomenon of terrorism — like all human wars — disrupted the attention to freedom of expression.

But after the victory accomplished by the state in that war, we are now witnessing a series of developments represented in issuing — for the first time — a formal human rights strategy, re-constituting of the National Council for Human Rights, and now the release of a new group of political detainees.

These developments show us whether the country is moving towards restricting human rights or gradually broadening them; and yet, I searched for a reaction for these developments in the western press and found no trace.

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