Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Timely and incisive editorial in the NYTimes: Denial and Democracy in Egypt

Denial and Democracy in Egypt - New York Times

"In recent weeks, Egypt’s government has further trampled the rights of its citizens, closing several branches of the Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services, which provides much needed legal assistance to workers. This comes at a time when a growing number of government critics have been thrown in jail and on the heels of "n Cairo, painted a chillingly sunny picture of President Hosni Mubarak’s government. While he acknowledged there were “some infringements and violations” of human rights, he declared himself “optimistic” about democratic progress in Egypt, adding that the judiciary and the government’s “commitment to the opinion of the common Egyptian citizen” would carry the day.

"That not only contradicts reality — freedom of expression and assembly is actually diminishing — it contradicts the State Department’s latest human rights report, which says that Egypt’s rights record remains poor. Egypt’s jailed bloggers and beaten protesters can certainly attest to that.

"After crackdowns weakened or destroyed so many of Egypt’s independent political organizations, democratic activists are hoping the burgeoning trade union movement will pick up the fight for democratic change. Which is why Mr. Mubarak has ordered the shuttering of the trade union centers.

"With so many other things to worry about in the Middle East, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush also seem to have lost their earlier fervor for Egyptian democracy. Washington must warn Mr. Mubarak clearly about the costs — for Egypt’s long-term stability and its relationship with the United States — of such anti-democratic moves. Happy talk and denial just damage America’s credibility and enable more repression."

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