News / Middle East

Germany Presses Egypt Over 'Selective Justice'

Egypt's interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy (3rd L) speaks as German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (2nd R) looks on during their meeting in Cairo, August 1, 2013.
Egypt's interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy (3rd L) speaks as German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (2nd R) looks on during their meeting in Cairo, August 1, 2013.
Germany urged Egypt to avoid “the appearance of selective justice” on Thursday amid a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which remained defiantly dug in at a protest camp the police have orders to remove.

There was no word on when the authorities would move against the vigil maintained by the Brotherhood since the army ousted Morsi on July 3 following mass protests. A Cabinet statement on Wednesday appeared to signal imminent action.

In the month since Morsi's fall, police have rounded up many Brotherhood leaders, mostly on charges of inciting violence.

Morsi, who has been in army detention since his overthrow, also faces a judicial inquiry into accusations that include murder and conspiring with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

The arrests, along with street violence that has killed more than 100 Morsi supporters, have fuelled global concern that the army-backed government plans to crush the Brotherhood even if it says it wants to involve the Islamists in a new transition plan.

“All appearance of selective justice must be avoided,” said Westerwelle, speaking alongside his Egyptian counterpart, Nabil Fahmy.

Fahmy said: “There is no justice of vengeance and no selective justice. There is law and it applies to everyone.”

The authorities brought formal charges on Wednesday against the Brotherhood's three top leaders, two of whom are in custody.

The government has been buoyed by huge pro-army rallies on Friday in response to a call by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for Egyptians to give him a “mandate” to crack down on “violence and terrorism” - a reference to the Brotherhood.

"Ready to die”

With the Brotherhood camped out in the streets, Egypt is more polarized than at any time since veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011, starting off a political transition fraught with unrest that has hammered the economy.

The government's new transition plan envisions parliamentary elections in about six months, to be followed by a presidential vote. The Brotherhood says the army has mounted a coup against a legitimate elected leader and want nothing to do with the plan.

With no sign of a negotiated end to weeks of confrontation, the interim cabinet said on Wednesday that two Cairo vigils by Morsi supporters posed a threat to national security, citing “terrorism” and traffic disruption.

It ordered the Interior Ministry to take steps to “address these dangers and put an end to them,” but gave no time-frame.

“We are ready. We are ready to die for legitimacy. An attack can happen at any moment,” said Mohamed Saqr, a Brotherhood activist guarding one of the entrances to the sprawling encampment centered around a mosque in northeast Cairo.

Wednesday's announcement appeared to undermine efforts by the European Union to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton spent two days in Cairo this week, becoming the first outsider to see Morsi when she was flown after dark by military helicopter to his secret place of confinement.

An EU envoy in Cairo to pursue the mediation effort visited the main sit-in in northeast Cairo late on Wednesday.

Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad posted a photo on Twitter of Bernadino Leon, the envoy, at the sit-in's media center. “This military coup is not accepted by a large segment of society,” he said. “I think he [Leon] got the message.”

“Recipe for bloodshed”

Thousands of Brotherhood supporters are camped out behind  sandbag fortifications at the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in. The entrances are guarded by volunteers with sticks, shields and makeshift body armor.

The interim government says the protesters are using guns.

The Brotherhood accuses security forces of whipping up  trouble to justify a crackdown and has vowed to resist any attempt by the security forces to disperse the camps.

Such forcible action could set off more bloodletting after security forces shot dead 80 Brotherhood followers on Saturday and plunged the most populous Arab nation deeper into turmoil. The Brotherhood has called for a “million-man march” on Friday.

Human rights group Amnesty International called the cabinet decision to clear the camps “a recipe for further bloodshed” and a “seal of approval to further abuse.”

Almost 300 people have been killed in violence since Morsi's ouster, inspiring fears in the West of a wider conflagration in Egypt, which straddles the Suez Canal and whose 1979 peace treaty with Israel is central to U.S. policy in the Middle East.

The United States, which supports the Egyptian military with $1.3 billion a year in aid, urged security forces in its longtime ally to respect the right to peaceful assembly. Two senior Republican senators are due to travel to Cairo next week.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday the United States would proceed with a major military exercise called Bright Star in Egypt in mid-September. “We're planning on going ahead with it,” Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon.

Hagel has been in regular contact with Sisi since the military unseated Morsi. But U.S. ties with Egypt's armed forces have shown signs of strain, notably when President Barack Obama decided last week to halt delivery of four F-16 fighter jets.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs