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

Pakistan Among Developing Counties Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs