By Claire Bernish
Egypt — A nation known for brutality against civilians has just slammed the United States for hypocrisy following two police fatal shootings last week in Minnesota and Louisiana — as Egyptian lawmakers phrased it, the U.S. has “an alleged respect for human rights.”
As Margaret Azer, deputy chairman of the country’s parliamentary human rights committee, denounced the killings, saying, according to Foreign Policy, the U.S. “was caught red-handed violating human rights and crushing the peaceful protests of black Americans in the city of Dallas and other U.S. cities.”
Azer also stated the deaths of civilians at the hands of police “expose the bloody face of the United States and its politicized use of the issue of human rights to extort other nations.”
Egypt earned a reputation for human rights abuse after protests erupted over the ousting of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. A brutal crackdown from the country’s security forces led by then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi — who later became president — saw some 900 demonstrators gunned down.
Police and military forces have continued brutalizing Egyptian citizens and others since that time. When Italian student Giulio Regeni disappeared in January only to be found dead with indications he’d been tortured, Western politicians suspected al-Sisi’s forces — though the Egyptian government has denied the allegations.
Further, in February, Foreign Policy recalled, “hundreds of civilians stormed Cairo’s streets to protest the brutal murder of 24-year-old Mohamed Ismail, a taxi driver who was arguing with an Egyptian cop when the officer took out his pistol and shot him in the head.”
By all indicators, law enforcement officers in Egypt appear to have unspoken impunity when acting violently against civilians. Sound familiar?
Last week, U.S. police gunned down Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in separate but equally contentious incidents that drove activists and anti-police brutality activists into streets in cities across the country. Further exacerbating the issue, police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — appearing ready for full-on military conflict in riot gear with MRAPs to back them up — cracked down on an otherwise peaceful protest, forcing protesters from the front lawn of a private residence into the streets, and proceeded to arrest them for obstructing a highway.
This menacing human wall of riot gear-laden officers immediately drew parallels to a standing army inside the United States.
Both the killings and the excessive use of force against ensuing protests infuriated a number of Egyptian lawmakers, Foreign Policy noted, including Ilhami Agina, who wrote to Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry requesting he ‘summon’ U.S. Ambassador Stephen Beecroft over these issues, saying:
“Obama, who came to Cairo in 2009 to give us a long lecture on human rights, might have forgotten that it is America that needs radical reform.”
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