The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Egypt

By Vexen Crabtree 2018

#egypt #equality #freedom #human_rights #politics #tolerance

Egypt
Arab Republic of Egypt

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index112nd best
CapitalCairo
Land Area 995 450km21
LocationAfrica, The Mediterranean, The Middle East
Population98.4m2
Life Expectancy71.33yrs (2017)3
GNI$10 064 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesEG, EGY, 8185
Internet Domain.eg6
CurrencyPound (EGP)7
Telephone+208

Egypt is amongst the worst places in the world at ensuring human rights and freedom, and it has severe cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Egypt comes in the best 20 when it comes to speed of uptake of HR treaties9. It does better than average for its nominal commitment to Human Rights10. When it comes to most other metrics, Egypt does not do well. Despite having over 118,000 girls in under-age marriages in 2017, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled against a 2008 law that prohibits child marriage, and violence against women is far, far too common17. It does worse than average in terms of commentary in Human Rights Watch reports11, opposing gender inequality12, supporting press freedom13 and in LGBT equality14. And finally, it sits amongst the bottom 20 for its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice15 and in supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms16. Independent newspapers and news websites that the government dislike face arbitrary restrictions, confiscation of equipment and their staff are harassed - Al-Borsa, Daily News Egypt, Masry al-Arabiya and Cairo Portal were all abused in 201717. "President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi [crushes] public dissent in Egypt"18 and security forces use torture to obtain confessions17.


1. Egypt's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)19,20
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank19,20
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
134Laos110.6
135Algeria110.6
136Bangladesh110.7
137Egypt110.7
138Fiji110.7
139UAE112.4
140Uzbekistan113.3
141Libya113.4
142Guinea114.6
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway19. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine19.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe19, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia19.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

The Interior Ministry´s National Security Agency (NSA), operating with near-absolute impunity, was responsible for the most flagrant abuses, including widespread and systematic use of torture to coerce confessions. Torture techniques included beatings, prolonged painful stress positions, and electrocutions. Prosecutors rarely investigated torture claims and almost never dropped torture-tainted confessions. [...]

President al-Sisi ratified a new law on associations in May 2017 that, when implemented, could eliminate the little remaining space for civil society and end the work of decades-old human rights and other independent associations. The law criminalizes the work of NGOs, providing for up to five-year prison terms for failing to adhere to its provisions such as operating or receiving funds without government approval.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)17

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)11
Pos.Higher is better
Score11
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
98Kazakhstan-6
99Cuba-6
100Yemen-7
101Egypt-7
102Equatorial Guinea-7
103Swaziland-7
104Indonesia-7
105Ethiopia-7
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)10
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties10
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
81Guinea17
82Russia17
83Armenia17
84Egypt16
85Togo16
86Belarus16
87Seychelles16
88Tajikistan16
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)9
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty9
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
10Panama4.26
11Senegal4.32
12Namibia4.36
13Egypt4.52
14Spain4.60
15Peru4.64
16Sweden4.88
17Ukraine4.94
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)16
Pos.Lower is better
Rank16
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
141China141
142Ethiopia142
143Mauritania143
144Egypt144
145Saudi Arabia144
146Chad146
147Pakistan146
148Zimbabwe148
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)21

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)13
Pos.Lower is better13
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
154Swaziland4676
155Azerbaijan4773
156Belarus4835
157Egypt4866
158Pakistan5131
159Kazakhstan5508
160Rwanda5546
161Sri Lanka5659
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

Throughout 2017 the government continued to interfere with independent news outlets and block websites of political groups, enacting arbitrary restrictions, confiscating equipment and harassing staff; this included Al-Borsa, Daily News Egypt, Masry al-Arabiya and Cairo Portal were all abused in 2017, sometimes using anti-terrorism laws17. Human Rights bodies are often treated the same way17.

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)22
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims22
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
101Mozambique0.54
102Russia0.55
103Moldova0.55
104Egypt0.55
105Benin0.55
106Venezuela0.56
107Haiti0.56
108Zambia0.57
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory23. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends24. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life25. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves26.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery27. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity28. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.29. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi22, Eritrea22, Indonesia30) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery31.

Egypt practices conscription, which involves a mandatory period of service in the military. But the Walk Free Foundation reports that this sometimes becomes slave labour as some 'conscripts' are assigned to lengthy and arduous work which is clearly non-military in nature32 such as public infrastructure and civil construction work.

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

The 1950s saw a late rush of 43 countries, including Egypt and many developing nations, move to cease preventing women from voting. Egypt is an unequal country, with male rights dominating those of women.

Half-hearted steps to combat violence against women remained ineffective, with no monitoring of progress, and the prosecution of perpetrators remained rare17.

Women continued to face discrimination under Egypt´s personal status law on equal access to divorce, child custody, and inheritance. [...]

The National Program for Combating FGM reported a decline in thepercentage of girls aged 15 to 17 who underwent FGM from 74 percent in 2005 to55 percent in 2015. [...]

President al-Sisi publicly spoke against child marriage after the 2017 national census in September revealed that there were 118,000 girls married under 18. "It hurts me and it should hurt anyone with true conscience," alSisi said.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)17

Despite the problems with under-age marriage, Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court ruled against a 2008 law that prohibits marriage for children under the age of 18.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)12
Pos.Lower is better12
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
133Syria0.55
134Togo0.56
135Kenya0.56
136Egypt0.57
137Swaziland0.57
138Cameroon0.57
139Mozambique0.57
140Sudan0.57
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
110Mauritius1956
111Somalia1956
112Gabon1956
113Egypt1956
114Comoros1956
115Malaysia1957
116Laos1958
117Hungary1958
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)15
Pos.Lower is better
%15
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
85Turkey69
86Greece69
87Saudi Arabia74
88Egypt75
89Oman76
90Lebanon78
91Morocco80
92Qatar80
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews33,34,35,36. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East37, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews38,39. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"40. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males41.

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

Security forces seek out and arrest gay and transgender folk; at one concert in 2017 activists proclaimed support for a rainbow flag, leading security forces to make 75 arrests - "Supreme State Security Prosecution charged two with "joining an illegal group" aiming at overthrowing the constitution. Courts sentenced over 40 of the arrested to prison terms of up to 6 years under vague "debauchery" laws"17.

LGBT Equality (2017)14
Pos.Higher is better
Score14
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
170Botswana-25
171Ghana-25
172Pakistan-26
173Egypt-27
174Iraq-29
175Togo-29
176Comoros-30
177Angola-30
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence42. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws43. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries42. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#christianity #egypt #islam

Discriminatory laws serve to restrict Christian churches from operating17, and there is frequently violence against churches. When attacks occur, the government has sponsored "customary reconciliation" sessions rather than conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions against Muslims17.

In September, representatives of Egypt´s Orthodox Church submitted a list of more than 2,000 churches that lack any license needed legalize their status according the 2016 discriminative law. Sectarian violence around construction or repair of churches still exists and when violent incidents do occur, as in Kom al-Lofy in Minya governorate in April, the government sponsored “customary reconciliation” sessions in place of criminal investigations and prosecutions.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)17

In Egypt Mitwalli Ibrahim Mitwalli Saleh was arrested in 2003 and charged (2 months later) with "contempt of the Islamic religion" for questioning, in an unpublished work, Muslim beliefs such as the murder of apostates and the ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men44.

17