Egypt Parliament condemns European Parliament resolution on rights violations

Egypt’s Parliament issued a statement on Saturday condemning a resolution adopted by the European Parliament last week on human rights violations in Egypt and rejecting what it called “an intervention into internal Egyptian affairs.”

The statement criticized the resolution as being based on what it described as “unreliable reports” and “sources known for having biased and politicized orientations.”

“The House of Representatives stresses that Egypt does not care about the mentioned resolution,” Saturday’s statement read. “However, this resolution might affect any possible partnership with the European Union in confronting the various challenges facing the region.”

The resolution, which was adopted on December 13, is the most strongly worded condemnation of the human rights situation in Egypt by the European Parliament in nearly four years. It condemned “continuous restrictions on fundamental democratic rights” in Egypt and called on the Egyptian government to end its crackdown on human rights workers, journalists, activists, the LGBTQ community and civil society organizations, among others.

In a rare move, the resolution specifically named no less than 18 rights activists and media professionals and called on the Egyptian government to immediately and unconditionally release them and “all others detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression.” The resolution also shed light on the ongoing state of emergency, violence and discrimination against Copts, the ongoing investigation into the death of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni in January 2016, and the 2018 presidential election process, which it described as “a massive denial of Egyptian voters’ right to political participation.”

In Saturday’s statement, Egypt’s Parliament rejected what it called the “politicization of human rights matters,” adding that the European Parliament should instead focus on widespread violations to fundamental human rights in Europe, pointing to issues of “racism and hate speech against Muslims in European societies, the slow procedures of justice and the inhumane treatment to immigrants and refugees.”

During the debate held on Saturday by the Egyptian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, discussion also turned to the European Parliament’s “interference” in the case of Ola al-Qaradawi — the daughter of prominent Islamic preacher Youssef al-Qaradawi — and her husband, Hossam Khalaf, who have been held in remand detention in Egypt since July 2017 on charges of financing terrorism. The European Parliament had contacted the Egyptian embassy in Brussels and called for the couple to be referred to trial or released.

Wael Nasr Eddin, the head of human rights department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, blasted the European Parliament for its intervention in the case, saying that “interference in judicial affairs is a crime that has no statute of limitations.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Human Rights Committee, Alaa Abed, defended the detentions, saying the two were arrested following police investigations and an arrest warrant issued by the Public Prosecutor’s office. Wael Abu Eita, the Ministry of Justice representative, who also attended the debates, claimed that both defendants were in good health.

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