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Freedom House puts Egypt on list of repressive countries

By Mohamed Abdel Salam

9/19/2010 Egypt (Bikya Masr) – Egypt has been listed as one of the most repressive countries worldwide, in a new report published by Freedom House. The announcement comes as no surprise to activists who have continually faced government arrest, detention and harassment over their calls for greater freedom and constitutional change.

“The report is succinct and reveals what many of us already knew in terms of how the Egyptian government treats its own citizens,” Baher Goma’a, a 28-year-old Alexandria-based activist and human rights advocate, told Bikya Masr on Sunday.

The annual Report from the American human rights organization said Egypt is listed among the “non-free” states and also predicted a lack of improvement in the human rights situation, describing Egypt as a “repressive” country such as China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia and Sudan.

The report, issued last week, said that the International Council on Human Rights at the United Nations includes the membership of countries described as “undemocratic,” including Egypt, pointing to what it called the “high rates of repression and lack of enjoyment of NGOs and civil society organizations of the freedom to practice their activities.”

For Egyptian activists who have long faced the heavy hand of the state, the report supports what they have been arguing for a number of years, added Goma’a. According to him, the Egyptian government “is doing all it can to ensure it remains in power and they don’t care if this means imprisoning anyone who voices their opposition. It is a tough place to speak out.”

Activism is not the only issue at hand, analysts point said. They pointed to the increasing difficulty of Egypt’s Christian population’s difficulty of building houses of worship and the ongoing tension between the government and religious institutions.

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