Egypt MPs Geneva visit to attend ‎human rights conference sparks controversy

Ten Egyptian MPs are currently in Geneva, ‎Switzerland to attend a conference on human rights. ‎The delegation, led by head of ‎parliament’s human rights committee Anwar Al-‎Sadat, has caused furious reaction in parliamentary ‎circles.‎

Atef Makhaleef, the deputy head of the human rights ‎committee, told reporters on Tuesday that not only ‎did the parliament’s speaker Ali Abdel-Aal reject the ‎Geneva visit and refuse to approve it, there are ‎also strong grounds that the organisers – the ‎Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and ‎Global Dialogue – is a major supporter of the ‎outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.‎

Makhaleef told the news website of Parlmany that ‎‎”Al-Sadat’s visit to Geneva without receiving prior ‎approval from the parliament’s speaker – as stipulated by ‎internal bylaws – and accepting to attend a ‎conference organised by a centre which has given a ‎lot of support to the terrorist group the Muslim ‎Brotherhood for three years, amounts to “treason ‎against Egypt.”

“I rejected joining this ‎visit because it represents treason for my country ‎and its parliament,” Makhaleef said.‎

Makhaleef also accused Sadat of “acting on his own”.

‎‎”He got a personal invitation from the Geneva ‎Centre without parliament speaker Abdel-Aal’s ‎knowledge or approval and chose certain members ‎from the human rights committee to join him,” said ‎Makhaleef.‎

Makhaleef also disclosed that “when Sadat asked ‎me to join his Geneva visit, I rejected and advised ‎him to stop his active participation in foreign ‎conferences on human rights.”

“These Western ‎conferences usually adopt a radical liberal agenda ‎on human rights and that this agenda only leads to ‎chaos and disintegration and that this is the lesson ‎we should have learned from these “malicious ‎agendas” over the last five years (or since what is ‎termed “the Arab Spring” began),” argued ‎Makhaleef.‎

According to Makhaleef, an independent MP for ‎East Cairo’s district of Matariyya, “the lesson we ‎should have learnt is that the West, led by the US, ‎exploits human rights not for the advancement of ‎this issue but to cause troubles and civil wars in the ‎Arab world.”

“I tell them please first respect human ‎rights in your countries before you organise ‎conferences on this politicised issue,” said ‎Makhaleef.

He also asserted that “the US’s project ‎for spreading chaos in the Arab world has not yet been completed because Egypt still stands in their ‎way.”

“Egypt is a still a thorn in their mouth and this ‎explains why they are still trying their best to impose the ‎scenario of chaos on it,” said Makhaleef. ‎

Makhaleef opened fire on the US embassy in Cairo ‎in particular.

“Officials from the US embassy in ‎Cairo contacted me one-month-and-half ago in a bid ‎to encourage me to show more cooperation with ‎Anwar Al-Sadat,” said Makhaleef, adding that “they ‎never contacted me again because their invitation ‎was rejected outright both in form and content.”‎

A lot of MPs in Egyptian parliamentary circles ‎accuse Sadat, a nephew of late president Anwar Al-‎Sadat and chairman of the liberal Reform and ‎Development Party, of having strong links with the ‎US embassy in Cairo and of receiving foreign ‎money.

They exploited a Wikileaks document from ‎January that showed that Sadat came on top of 25 ‎Egyptian activists who received money from the US ‎during the pre-Mubarak regime years.

The ‎document, entitled “09CAIRO32,” showed that ‎Sadat accepted the invitation of many US ‎ambassadors in Egypt to discuss issues on human ‎rights and democracy.‎

Mostafa Bakri, a Nasserist independent MP, told Ahram Online that Sadat’s links with the US ‎embassy are no secret.

“Since he became head of ‎the human rights committee in parliament, he has ‎tried his best to serve the agenda of the US ‎embassy,” said Bakri.‎

Mortada Mansour, an independent MP and a high-‎profile lawyer, also accused Sadat last January of ‎‎”receiving a lot of money from Western human ‎rights organisations via the US and German ‎embassies in Cairo and from trafficking in drugs.” ‎‎

“Sadat should not be head of the human rights ‎committee and I have a CD about his financial ‎violations,” said Mansour, who is also chairman of the Zamalek Sporting Club. ‎

Sadat’s visit to Geneva ignited a stormy verbal ‎clash between him and parliament’s speaker Ali ‎Abdel-Aal in a plenary session on 7 August. Abdel-‎Aal told MPs that when he knew that Sadat had ‎received a personal invitation to attend the Geneva ‎conference, he strongly objected and asked him not ‎to travel to Switzerland or accept invitations from ‎hostile Western organisations.

“When I rejected, I ‎was surprised that he (Sadat) reacted by threatening ‎to freeze the activities of the human rights ‎committee he heads,” said Abdel-Aal. ‎

Abdel-Aaal told MPs that Sadat, as head of the ‎human rights committee, has committed many violations ‎in recent weeks.

“He and other members of the ‎committee made visits without getting parliament’s ‎prior approval and tried their best to meddle into the ‎affairs of other committees,” said Abdel-Aal, also ‎telling Sadat that “my patience has its own limits and ‎that another head for the committee could be ‎elected.”‎

In his defence, Sadat told reporters that his attempts ‎to energise the performance of the committee have faced ‎many obstacles.

“We asked the interior ministry ‎several times to allow us to visit prisons and police ‎stations to review human rights there, but we never ‎received an approval to do so,” Sadat said.

He also ‎disclosed that he invited Interior Minister Magdi ‎Abdel-Ghaffar to deliver a statement before the ‎committee, “but he never comes.”‎

Sadat also insisted that his interest in attending human ‎rights conferences in the West stems from his ‎keenness to defend Egypt’s record in this respect.

‎‎”You must be active in foreign circles to respond to ‎attacks leveled against Egypt in this respect and this ‎is part of my role as head of parliament’s human ‎rights committee,” said Sadat.‎

Sadat also rejected all accusations directed at him ‎by MPs such as Bakri and Mansour.

“These accusations ‎are complete lies and reflect a low level of ‎parliamentary manners,” said Sadat.‎

Margaret Azer, the deputy chairman of the human rights ‎committee, also told reporters on Tuesday that “attacks ‎against Sadat are by no means substantiated.” ‎

‎”Anyone alleging that he has documents against ‎Sadat or any other MPs should present them at ‎once to the speaker or to the ethics committee so ‎that they can be investigated,” said Azer, adding ‎that “it is also incorrect that some members of the ‎committee went to Geneva to defend the Muslim ‎Brotherhood or to seek reconciliation with this ‎group.”

“Sadat and other MPs have the right to ‎attend these conferences as long as they did ‎nothing wrong,” said Azer.‎

Amal Zakaria, another leading official of the human ‎rights committee and a member of the Geneva ‎delegation, indicated in a statement on Tuesday ‎that “Egypt’s foreign ministry did not object to MPs ‎participating in the Geneva conference.”

“These kind ‎of conferences give MPs an opportunity to respond ‎to attacks against Egypt,” said Zakaria, adding that ‎‎”it is not accepted at all that some MPs accuse their ‎colleagues of “treason” or cast doubts on their ‎loyalty to their country.”‎

Zakaria strongly denied that they held meetings with ‎Muslim Brotherhood members during the Geneva ‎conference.

“This conference debates human rights ‎conditions, and we made a review of Egypt’s efforts ‎in this respect,” said Zakaria, adding that “all the ‎debates were made in collaboration with Egypt’s ‎ambassador in Switzerland Amr Ramadan and with ‎a follow up from Egypt’s embassy there.”‎

 source: Ahram Online