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Thursday, March 1 2001 13:28 6 Adar 5761


AI concerned over Egypt's human rights violations

Freedom of expression is under attack in Egypt, said Amnesty International. The London-based international human rights organization identified over 30 "prisoners of conscience" who were jailed in 2000.

The organization also raised objections to the current trial of Issam A-Din Hanafi. Hanafi, a cartoonist for Egyptian daily Al-Shaab, the opposition Labor Party newspaper, is currently on trial for a cartoon that he drew regarding the government's legal action against the paper.

"We are very concerned that a cartoonist is facing a prison term for merely expressing his views," said Amnesty's statement.

During the lead up to the parliamentary election in October 2000, hundreds of people were detained without charges, in some cases for months before being released.

Others were sentenced to prison terms of between six months and five years because of their political or religious beliefs.

"An increasing number of people are being detained and tried in Egypt simply because they exercised their right to freedom of expression," said Amnesty.

Two months into the new year and the government is continuing the trend. In mid-January seven alleged members of the Baha'i faith were detained.

Amnesty called for the release of all prisoners of conscience and further demanded that the Egyptian government review or abolish legislation that contravenes international standards on the right to exercise freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Egypt is a signatory to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, both of which guarantee the individual right to freedom of expression.

(Middle East Times, Cairo, February 23)

©Copyright 2001, Jerusalem Post

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