In an odd twist of fate, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi decided to have a change of heart and "pardon" three Al Jazeera journalists including Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. Whether Sisi was feeling charitable on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid-Ul-Adha or wanted to improve his faltering global reputation before his visit to the United Nations is unknown.
While Egypt was considered a role model for civilization once upon a time, its inability to put a stop against barbaric acts of FGM is painful. The human rights violations where infants, toddlers, children, teenagers, and women, are having their vaginas sliced, because the notion of a woman experiencing sexual pleasure is distasteful, are not dwindling.
Over the past 19 months the brutality of the Egyptian Police reached new highs, not even seen or heard of during the Mubarak years. The European Parliament, the UN Secretary General, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have all condemned the Egyptian security forces for the use of force leading to the death of hundreds of protesters and serious injuries of many more.
Many International actors, including the U.S. government, support the Egyptian military, in the belief that Egypt's army can restore stability, and, in doing so, stem the flow of refugees out of Egypt. But it's the Egyptian military, through its stubbornness dealing with the conscientious objection issue, which generates refugees every day.
I was sitting on a bench inside the military court that day, accompanied by a military intelligence agent, waiting for my military judge to arrive in the courtroom. It was a spring day, in April 2011, just few months after the revolution started. It was the fifth time I was detained in Egypt because of my activism. It isn't that I can understand the situations of people facing injustice from afar, I can feel their pain, because it's my pain as well.
The detention of Dr. Tarek Loubani and John Greyson was at the forefront of all Canadians' concerns for the 50 days they spent behind bars at Cairo's Tora Prison. Dr. Tarek Loubani is an emergency room physician in my riding and John Greyson is an acclaimed film-maker and professor at York University. They are now home safe.
During the short-lived rule of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood complained bitterly about the "deep state" while liberal-secularists accused the Brotherhood of consolidating power throughout Egypt to push through its conservative social policies. In rebutting these claims, each side accused the other of sheer paranoia.
What stance do I take on Egypt? I can defend the killings and support the military, but my voice will change nothing on the ground. On the other hand, I can condemn the killings, guessing but not knowing, that of the 900 or more estimated dead so far, most were not armed, not terrorists, some not even Morsi supporters.