Civil Liberties

More Grim News from the Egyptian Winter


From Salon, some grim stories of a post-Mubarak Egypt that's still far from free:

 like hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, [Amr] El-Beheiry found himself swept up in the momentum of history and he took to the streets to join the protests that began January 25, 2011 and 18 days later resulted in the downfall of Mubarak. El-Beheiry continued to challenge authority — newly empowered, his family says, by the idea of a better future. On Feb. 25, he was arrested along with dozens of other protesters in front of the building where Egyptian cabinet meets.

El-Beheiry has the unfortunate distinction of being among the very first civilians arrested under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the governing body made up of generals that was given executive authority in Egypt during the transition to a newly elected government.

As a result, he was among the first of some 12,000 civilians to be brought before a military tribunal under the country's so-called "Emergency Laws." This process routinely suspends a civilian's right to a fair trial and human rights activists fear it is an old ploy of the Mubarak regime which is once again being used to crush dissent. ??El-Beheiry has been badly beaten in prison, held incommunicado and sentenced to five years on what his family and lawyers say are trumped-up charges of breaking curfew and assaulting a soldier.

He was sentenced at a court hearing that was never announced to the family and which not even his lawyers were permitted to attend.

Mubarak used the "Emergency Laws" for decades to circumvent the civilian justice system and was criticized by international human rights groups for years for doing so. But in three decades of Mubarak's autocratic rule, there were only 2,000 cases of civilians being tried by military courts. In just ten months of SCAF taking control of the country, there have been six times that many.

Human Rights Watch released a report this week to mark the anniversary of the "January 25 Revolution" in Egypt that highlighted SCAF's use of these "Emergency Laws" and to call for the newly elected parliament to make it a legislative priority do away with this web of laws that curb free expression, limit the right to assembly and restrict just about any form of opposition to the ruling government. Egypt's newly elected lower house of parliament, known as the People's Assembly, will sit for the first time Monday.

In the 46-page report titled "The Road Ahead: A Human Rights Agenda for Egypt's New Parliament," Human Rights Watch sets out nine areas of Egyptian law that most need reform if the law is "to become an instrument that protects Egyptians' rights rather than represses them."

Amid the call for a change in Egypt's laws to end the practice of military trials, El Beheiry's case has become a cause célèbre, launching a popular, national movement known as "No Military Trials." Bumper stickers and street graffiti supporting the movement can be seen everywhere.

Reason on Egypt.

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  1. So, everyone’s free over there now? Right?

    1. Some are more free than others

    2. Freedom doesn’t matter, ProL. What matters is that we threw our weight around, and TEAM BLUE got to get their war boner on instead of TEAM RED this time. War boners all around!

      1. Egypt just elected an Islamist government, and Libya probably will too unless the US occupies them. Good job Obama. Enjoy your war boner.

        1. Another fine mess.

          Tell me again, why did (or would) anyone vote for Obama? Just what the fuck is he good on?

          1. Form >>>>> substance.

            1. I blame this all on Andre Agassi, who revealed to the world that image is everything.

          2. Tell me again, why did (or would) anyone vote for Obama? Just what the fuck is he good on?

            How many Nobel Prizes have you won?

            Yeah, exactly. Now sit down, put your hands between your knees and let the adults handle the foreign entanglements.

            1. If this were a video game, I’d return it for being too implausible, even for a stupid fucking video game.

              1. We could call it Borderlands III: Springtime in Arabia!

                1. I mean, some people go around talking about Hillary Clinton being a good SoS. That’s like saying a redshirt’s mother saying it’s a good idea to beam down with Captain Kirk–the evidence against is overwhelming.

                  1. Please omit the first instance of “saying” in the above comment.

                    1. Please omit the first instance of “saying” in the above comment.

                      I will do no such thing. Comments stand as they are. Once you click “place order” your credit card is billed. No returns, no refunds, no exceptions!

        2. Oh, he and all of TEAM BLUE enjoyed their war boners. Then they promptly forgot about the whole situation. Because they’re principled like that.

          1. And if an Islamist government does develop in Libya, Obama will eschew responsibility with the aid of a complicit media.

            1. It’s Ron Paul’s fault.

          2. Who’s the Administrator in this whole BLU vs. RED mess?

        3. Egypt just elected an Islamist government, and Libya probably will too unless the US occupies them. Good job Obama. Enjoy your war boner.

          I don’t think Egypt and Libya are in the same boat.

          In Egypt’s case, I suspect people are starting to wonder if Mubarak ever really had much choice in the matter. If Mubarak had wanted to reform, would the army have let him?

          I doubt it.

          In Libya’s case? I’m not convinced the U.S. is worse off from a security perspective with Gaddafi out of the picture. A huge chunk of the Jihadis in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) were Libyans and others, who grew up under vicious dictatorships and had nowhere to go–they certainly couldn’t go home.

          The choice wasn’t between Islamists dominating the parliament or American style democracy. It was between the people of Libya choosing a government for themselves or continuing with the vicious dictatorship that made all those Islamists such violent terrorists in the first place.

          If I had to choose between nationless, homeless jihadis with Gaddafi in power, on the one hand, and, on the other, seeing a heavily Islamist influenced government have to actually deliver on running a responsible government?

          I think I might prefer the latter.

          I think the goal of killing the machine that was manufacturing jihadis by the boatload is a more important goal of our foreign policy–more so than making sure there are as few Islamist governments in North Africa as possible.

          1. I mean, it’s not like we’re about to make Islamists go away anyway.

            Terrorism on the other hand? If the United States were no longer supporting the Egyptian military, and if there aren’t any more U.S. coddled dictators in North Africa…

            I think that knocks some 75% or more of Al Qaeda’s reason to exist, doesn’t it?

            Oh, and has anyone else around here heard the news about how (if it hasn’t happened already) the U.S. is on the verge of energy independence? How the U.S. is a net exporter of energy now?

            Our job isn’t to ensure that the governments of North Africa aren’t Islamic. It’s to undermine those terrorists out there who are waging jihad against the U.S.

            Considering these things I’ve mentioned and other developments, you can color me cautiously optimistic.

            1. Or America could simply not stick its nose in the middle east, the reason Al Qaeda came about.

              1. Yeah, if we could go back in time and never have gotten involved over there back during the Cold War…using the Wayback machine or something?


                Short of time travel, we gotta figure out how to get to where you’re talkin’ about from where we are right now. We have to deal with things the way they are right now.

            2. Al-Qaeda’s reason to exist? To reinstate the Caliphate. They’re not going to pack up their bags and bombs when the big bad Americans end their supposed crimes across the world. Sorry to burst your bubble there but AQ aint leaving until we destroy them, and since nobody wants to do that then they just aint leaving.

              1. It’s a lot easier to recruit people for the cause of liberation from western influence when there are vicious dictators on friendly terms with the U.S. oppressing them.

                Their argument gets a whole lot harder to sell when there are no longer U.S. coddled dictators oppressing their people.

                Al Qaeda’s terrorist tactics look especially facile right about now, too, since 30 years of Al Qaeda terrorism accomplished exactly nothing, but a combination of protest movements and cooperation with the west swept away numerous vicious dictators in a matter of months (Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, with the ouster of Assad in Syria looking increasingly likely).

                I think it would be wrong, too, to conflate Islamists with Al Qaeda, which I think a lot of people do when they talk about various Muslims wanting a world-wide Caliphate. Muslims think that the world would be a better place if everyone converted to Islam much like my grandmother used to think that the world would be a better place if everyone in it converted to Christianity.

                Thinking that the world would be a better place if everyone were Christians didn’t make my grandmother, the pope and the Ku Klux Klan the same thing. In fact, grandma despised the Klan and thought the pope was the Antichrist; the Klan thought my grandmother was a traitor for opposing them and hated the pope; and the pope thought both the Klan and my grandmother were condemned to hell.

                This may come as a shock, but the relationship between Islamist politicians and revolutionary terrorist groups like Al Qaeda was already antagonistic in a lot of ways, and their relationship is likely to become increasingly antagonistic now that some of these Islamist groups will be responsible for governing some of these countries.

                It was easier to conflate Islamist political parties with terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda when they were both on the outside looking in; now that the Islamists have some legitimate political power and Al Qaeda just doesn’t, there’s even less justification for conflating them–certainly not just because they both think Islam is best for everyone.

                Certainly, if one group thinks the solution to their problems is good governance and getting more people to vote for their candidates–and the other group thinks the solution is waging jihad and more terrorist attacks against the West?

                They’re not the same thing.

        4. If that’s how they want to run their country, fine with me. The Obamanation fail in Egypt will be the failure to stop sending them aid checks.

          Libyan rebels ultimately killed Gaddafi and killed him good; if Libya does end up with an Islamist government, I doubt it will have anything to do with Obama’s undeclared war on Libya.

          This is the government these people seem to want. The 10th century was so cool, let’s live it again, only this time with Facebook. Obama’s effete meddling doesn’t seem to make much difference.

          What’s going to upset me is the insistence that we keep troops over there or keep throwing millions in aid money at them. As a bribe, of course, to keep them from bombing Israel into a crater. Um, no.

  2. The transformation of the United States into a democracy wasn’t exactly without hiccups either. It’s a wonder that these things don’t all end up like the French Revolution.

    The real reason we were so involved in Egypt in the first place had to do with the Cold War. When the United States first became the largest foreign donor to Egypt, it was only becasue we displaced the USSR for that title.

    It’s hard to unwind those sorts of arrangements once they’re in place, but now that the Cold War’s won, things that used to make a ton of sense don’t make much sense anymore.

    Right now would be a great time to cut our financial support for Egypt (and its military).

    1. Right now would be a great time to cut our financial support for Egypt (and its military).

      Lack of intervention is the only intervention that could turn Springime for Arabs back into the Arab Spring, I’m afraid.

      1. If I were the King of the United States right now, I’d replace our financial aid to Egypt and the Egyptian military with a free trade agreement with Egypt–effective tomorrow.

        But Barack Obama can’t think in those terms. He’s blinded by ideology.

  3. “call for the newly elected parliament to make it a legislative priority do away with this web of laws that curb free expression, limit the right to assembly and restrict just about any form of opposition to the ruling government”

    Yeah, we’ll see if Islamists are keen on that. Mmhmm.

  4. More Grim News from the Egyptian Winter

    Ahem. It’s now referred to as Springtime for Arabs.

    1. Don’t be stupid; be a smarty;
      Come and join the FJParty.

    1. Get it right. Food riots are caused by global warming.

      1. And binge drinking–don’t forget the binge drinking.

      2. Get it right. Food riots are caused by global warming.

        Right. And global warming is, in turn, caused by the EVIL ZIONIST JEWS!!!!!!!

  5. I have come across more than one article talking about the mounting food problem in Egypt, it needs to import lots of its food and is running out of money to pay for it as well. The government subsidised food for so long it really does look bleak for Egypt, whether Mubarak stayed or not, until the most basic food economy is sorted out the news can only be more grim.

  6. By the way, there’s a sizable chunk of Islamists in Egypt who think the Pyramids are idolatrous.

    They were nice while they lasted.

  7. My friend who is Egyptian says that things are going to explode over there in the next few months. Basically they are going to oust the military.

    1. With whose guns?

      I wish liberty lovers well around the world but fear Egypt will become a civil war between army supporting secularists and hijack supporting islamists. Libya will become a Islamist state and most likely drive it’s secularists out and Iraq will just implode again because they all hate each other so much. The upshot to this is if there are a whole bunch of civil wars going on, the pressure will probably be off of Israel to reach any agreement with the Palestinians, but maybe that will quiet down the hardliners there.

      In conclusion, middle east = fucked again.

      1. But when Egypt descends into hunger and chaos, why not create a distraction and some “national unity” by blaming the Jews and attacking Israel?

  8. Speaking of the Arab world, more proof that liberal journalists are always complaining.

  9. I got the impression Libya’s Islamists didn’t have much political strength.

  10. Watch Herman Cain deliver the Tea Party State of the Union at ! The live stream starts on Tuesday, January 24th at 10:30 EST/7:30 PST.

  11. As significant as 1989 when the Berlin wall came down, overwhelmingly the story of 2012 is centered in the Middle East

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