Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, July 06, 2007

Scholar says U.S. should support civil liberties through aid bill

In an op-ed in Monday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Eric Trager, a Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania who lived in Cairo last year as part of his Islamic Civilizations Fulbright Scholarship, says that a U.S. appropriations bill that would make military aid to Egypt contingent on specific reforms doesn’t do enough to remedy the lack of civil liberties in the nation or repression of the country’s liberal voices.

“Washington’s new strategy should therefore leverage its annual military aid to Egypt, opening Egypt’s political field to meaningful participation of Egyptian liberals,” Trager writes. “By pushing for the institution of civil liberties, it would empower liberals to compete with Egypt’s present political heavyweights and gradually build a third political stream that could ultimately affect internal reform.”

Trager cites the case of an activist friend who demonstrated against a March referendum on a set of controversial constitutional amendments. According to Trager, his friend and seven others were apprehended by police and held in the desert for a day until voting ended. The individual has apparently disavowed politics as a result of the incident.

Trager goes on to write: “When the Senate Appropriations Committee convenes, it must condition future military aid to Egypt on the institution of civil liberties.”

For the full article, click here.


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