Egypt expresses concern over Sweden-Saudi rift

Egypt expresses concern over Sweden-Saudi rift

State News Agency MENA has reported that the Egyptian foreign minister’s aide for European affairs, Hatem Seif El-Nasr, raised concerns with Sweden's ambassador to Cairo, Charlotta Sparre, regarding Sweden's diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia over Human Rights abuses.

In January, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom denounced in a tweet Saudi Arabia's flogging of human rights activist blogger Raif Badawi, calling it a "cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression." Saudi Arabia rejected Wallstrom's comments as "flagrant interference" in its internal affairs, recalling its ambassador to Sweden.

During the meeting in Cairo on Tuesday March 24th 2015 Seif El-Nasr stressed that Sweden observe the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, and refrain from using language which could be deemed "insulting to others beliefs and religions." Relations between countries have to be based on mutual respect for different political and judicial systems, Seif El-Nasr added.

Cairo's objections of course will have absolutely nothing at all to do with the fact that Egypt too is guilty of flagrant human rights abuses - mainly aimed at opponents to the current regime, or the fact that Saudi Arabia has pledged billions of dollars in aid to Egypt since the ousting of President Mohamed al-Morsy in 2013.

From Human Rights Watch...

Arbitrary and politically motivated arrests have soared since al-Sisi, then defense minister, seized power in July 2013 from Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed al-Morsy. An Interior Ministry official in July 2014 acknowledged that authorities had arrested 22,000 people over the previous year. The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, which independently monitors political arrests, said that the number was more like 41,000 arrested or facing criminal charges as of last May. There is little doubt that Muslim Brotherhood members and alleged supporters of Morsy constituted the greatest number – Brotherhood leaders said 29,000 of their number were in custody. But the arrest campaign includes numerous secularist and leftist activists as well.

And of course once in custody they are subject to the same abuse and intense overcrowding. According to an investigation published in Al Watan, an independent daily that generally supports the government, drawing on statistics from the Justice Ministry’s Forensic Medical Authority, at least 90 detainees died in police custody in Cairo and Giza governorates in the first 11 months of 2014, from inhumane conditions, lack of adequate health care, and in some cases torture.

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