Egyptian repression continues as international governments become more sceptical to its alleged “democratic transition”

CAIRO — The conviction of three Al Jazeera journalists who were working on news coverage in Cairo has deeply outraged professionals from various news corporations around the world. Since then, the actual Egyptian regime led by General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has drawn more attention from international organisations, seeing as the country has constantly stepped towards a new dictatorship.

Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy have been sentenced to 7 years in jail under the accusations of spreading false news, conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood and “endangering national security”. Baher Mohamed, on the other hand, has been given additional three years in jail for possession of ammunition. However, the journalist was merely carrying a used shell as a souvenir.

These trials not only aggravated Egyptian relations with Al Jazeera, but with Qatar’s government as well. While Cairo accuses Doha of supporting Islamists, Doha denounces the Egyptian repression against pro-Morsi militants, which has killed more than 3,000 people and led around 17,000 to imprisonment. Egypt is believed to maintain more than 1,000 political prisoners charged with death penalty.

Since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian authorities have taken radical measures in order to refrain any sort of opposition. In March, 529 protesters were sentenced to death in a two-day mass trial. They were charged of disrupting public order and murdering a single policeman. Besides, Cairo has arbitrarily classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation, which has caused a massive political persecution on Muslims and dissidents. As a result, diplomatic relations between Egypt and Islamist countries have also been seriously affected.

The U.S. government also condemned Egypt’s repression. It is important to state, though, that the United States had not opposed the coup carried by General al-Sisi in 2013. Moreover, Egyptian military forces annually receive around 1.5 billion dollars from the US since the pact firmed between Israel and Egypt in 1979. Nonetheless, as the internal situation is becoming internationally unsustainable, Washington appears to have switched to a more critical position towards Cairo, as it has recently condemned the conviction of Al Jazeera journalists. On Monday (23), the US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “the chilling, draconian sentences” were “a deeply disturbing setback to Egypt’s transition”. The Canadian and Australian governments also made public speeches condemning the arresting of the journalists.

Despite these accusations, Egyptian government still claims to be carrying out a democratic transition, which is part of the revolution started in 2011 with the fall of Hosni Mubarak. Yet, the disproportional repression against protesters and the recente conviction of the three journalists under false charges are making international organisations and foreign governments more sceptical to this process. These events depict the fragility of a government striving to confirm its authority through coercion at all costs, resulting them to gradually losing their legitimacy before international community.

— Fabrício Fernandes, Correspondent (Politics)

Image Courtesy: Cinema Politica (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cinemapolitica/13766540735), Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic | Flickr