Less than a week after receiving news that the Obama administration had approved the sale of a fleet of U.S. Apache attack helicopters to Egypt, uproar is following a pair of court decisions Monday that critics say reveal the military-controlled government’s vicious attack on human rights and democratic values.
“These sentences are aimed at striking fear and terror into the hearts of those who oppose the interim government.” —Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch
On Monday, a judge in the country sentenced 720 men to death in a pair of separate rulings. Most of the individuals are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party whose leader Mohamed Morsi was democratically elected as president following the 2011 revolution but later thrown from power following a military coup.
According to Al-Jazeera:
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“The decisions are possibly the largest possible death sentences in recent world history,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director for Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch. “While they’re exceptional in scale, they’re certainly not exceptional in kind.”
She added: “It seems that these sentences are aimed at striking fear and terror into the hearts of those who oppose the interim government.”
And Sabah Hassan, whose son was sentenced to death, told Reuters: “This is a corrupt government. This is a failed regime. We have no real police. We have no real state.”
In a separate but related development, another Egyptian court on Monday banned what is known as the ‘April 6th Movement,’ one of the leading protest groups that led the revolt in 2011 that led to the ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak.
As Arab News reports:
Despite these attacks on democratic values, the U.S. government continues to support the Egyptian government with more than $1.5 billion in foreign aid, most of which is directed towards the military and security apparatus. In addition, as the controversial court rulings took place on Monday, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy was in Washington, DC on an official state visit.
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