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