Friday, September 28, 2007


By Ian Pannell - BBC News, Cairo.

Egypt has reacted angrily to criticism of its human rights record by the United States. The White House raised concerns about a number of court cases against the independent press and the closure of a human rights organisation.
Egypt's foreign minister rejected the comments as "unacceptable interference" in the country's internal affairs.
The pressure on independent and opposition forces in Egypt has been growing for many months now.
But in the past two weeks, there seems to have been a particular move against the independent press.

In the most prominent case, one journalist has been ordered to stand trial in a secretive emergency court for publishing rumours about the health of the president.
Elsewhere, a human rights group has been forced to shut down.
On Tuesday, the White House said these actions contradicted Egypt's stated commitment to democratic rights.
Even so, this is a relationship that is unlikely to turn sour anytime soon.
As Washington relies on Cairo to support its policies in the region, so Cairo relies on Washington for billions of dollars in aid.
But there was a time when the Bush administration hoped its plan for greater democracy in the region would be championed by its friends in Egypt.
These latest developments are further proof that this idea can be laid to rest.



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