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Amnesty urges US' Biden to call out human rights abuses in Egypt

April 8, 2021 at 11:57 am

US President Joe Biden in Washington, DC on 1 March 2021 [Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images]

Amnesty International’s MENA advocacy director has called on US President Joe Biden to denounce human rights in Egypt and demand change.

“Tens of thousands of people have been swept up and detained in Egypt, and Amnesty International has called it the world’s largest open-air prison,” Philippe Nassif told Today News Africa.

President Sisi has led a vicious crackdown against activists, media, and people who do not align with views of the state or his religion. Oppressing is at its worst, worse than we have seen in any modern times, including torture in prisons and untold numbers of deaths

he continued.

“Our concern is that the US government had continued to sell arms to Egypt and provided them with political cover. We made that very clear to Congress and the Biden administration.”

Biden has famously promised that he wouldn’t issue any more blank cheques for Trump’s “favourite dictator” after the former American president maintained a close relationship with the Egyptian dictator despite the fact that human rights abuses have risen dramatically.

READ: Egypt adds 51 people to terror list 

However, in February Biden drew widespread condemnation when his administration authorised the sale of $200 million worth of weapons to Egypt.

Earlier this week, criticism was renewed after the US president upheld former Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi’s immunity following a lawsuit filed by ex-political prisoner Mohamed Soltan in Washington DC which held Beblawi responsible for the torture he was subjected to during his incarceration in Egypt.

Last Thursday the Justice Department submitted a formal declaration urging a federal court to dismiss Soltan’s case.

Nassif’s comments follow the release of Amnesty International’s annual report on human rights, which documents violations committed in Egypt in 2020.

Authorities punish public or perceived dissent, the report says, and detains journalists in retaliation for their critical views including over the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Hundreds of protesters and bystanders are being investigated for “terrorism” related charges whilst fair trial guarantees are regularly flouted.

Women are prosecuted on “morality” charges for the way they dress, and authorities have arrested and prosecuted Christians, Shia Muslims and others for blasphemy.