(WASHINGTON, D.C. – 6/18/2021) The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) is calling on the Biden Administration and congressional leaders to condemn and take concrete action to stop the U.S.-supported Egyptian government’s plan to carry out a mass execution of democracy activists, faith leaders, and other political prisoners in the coming days.
In 2018, the Egyptian government secured death sentences against 12 political prisoners in Egypt, including a former government minister who served in the country’s first and only democratic government. This week, Egypt’s highest court approved the sentences, paving the way for mass executions to occur at any moment.
Numerous human rights organizations have condemned both the convictions and the planned executions, but the United States has not publicly commented. Egypt receives over $1 billion in annual military aid from the United States.
“These ruthless death sentences, which were handed down in 2018 after a grossly unfair mass trial, are a stain on the reputation of Egypt’s highest appeals court and cast a dark shadow over the country’s entire justice system,” said Amnesty International’s Philip Luther, its research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
In a statement, USCMO Secretary-General Oussama Jammal said: “Because Egypt’s military dictatorship benefits greatly from American taxpayer dollars, our nation has both the opportunity and the obligation to stop its planned mass execution of political prisoners.
“The Biden Administration cannot condemn the imprisonment of people like Alexei Navalny in Russia and Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma while ignoring the murder of political prisoners in Egypt, which receives significant financial support from our nation. Murdering political opponents is wrong, regardless of whether an American ally or an American adversary does it.
“If President Biden truly believes that human rights must guide American foreign policy, he should withhold all financial and political support from Egypt’s military regime until it cancels these death sentences, releases all political prisoners, and guarantees human rights to the people of Egypt. Enough is enough.”
The US Council of Muslim Organizations calls on President Biden, Chairman Robert Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Gregory W. Meeks of the Foreign Affairs Committee to intervene and demand the Egyptian government halt the execution of the 12 political prisoners and free the over 110,000 political prisoners detained in Egypt. USCMO also encourages human rights activists, interfaith organizations, and all people of conscience across our nation to call on the Biden Administration to stop the planned mass executions, which would represent an absolute travesty of justice carried out with American financial and political support.
Under the Egyptian military’s unchecked tyranny, Egypt has become the world’s third-largest executioner, according to Amnesty International. So far in 2021, Egypt’s military regime has put 51 men and women to death, including a Christian monk. In just the two months of October and November, the Egyptian junta executed at least 57 people, almost doubling its 2019 execution death toll.
Human Rights Watch has characterized the Egyptian judiciary as “in the service of repression,” particularly by the use of massively corrupt pretrial detention, which Human Rights Watch notes “transforms it … into a tool of political punishment wielded by security agencies and rubber-stamped by the judiciary on a large scale.” Independent authorities from across the world have scrutinized Egypt’s appallingly repressive judicial system and declared it a travesty of justice. Impartial UN experts described it as a dark cloud of “continuing and unacceptable mockery of justice that casts a big shadow over the Egyptian legal system.”
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued a resolution after examining how the Egyptian judicial system actually functions, “[d]eploring [its] blatant disregard for the most basic guarantees of fair trial and due process by courts and tribunals as well as the lack of independence of the judiciary.”
Amnesty International documented in a 2020 report that nearly a quarter of Egypt’s executions relate to the state’s “political violence, after grossly unfair trials marred by forced ‘confessions’ and other serious human rights violations, including torture and enforced disappearances.” The mass detention of political prisoners has been ongoing since 2013 when the Egyptian military overthrew Egypt’s democratically elected government and massacred over 1,000 anti-coup demonstrators at Rabaa Square.
Human Rights Watch called that atrocity one of “the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history.” Amnesty International has rightly titled a recent advocacy campaign to increase awareness of Egypt’s despicable human rights reign of terror “Egypt: Open-Air Prison for Critics.”