U.S. needs to be more critical of Egypt's diminished democracy

Tuesday, October 5, 2010; A14

The Sept. 30 editorial "Beyond Mr. Mubarak" was right to point out that advancing democracy in Egypt is in the United States' interest and that pending elections are likely to be anything but democratic. Political and social tensions are increasing in Egypt, not least because of the government's uncertainty about how to manage the succession process from octogenarian President Hosni Mubarak. The denial of basic rights and freedoms to nonviolent government critics and political opponents is widespread and persistent.

The U.S. government should be more willing than it has been to criticize the Egyptian authorities in specific terms for violations that take place. It should make the case forcefully to Egyptian leaders, in public and private, that such practices harm Egypt's long-term interests in development, social peace and prosperity for its people.

The U.S. government will lose nothing by calling things by their proper names in Egypt, even if Egypt's leaders object. Failure to speak out against human rights violations will be seen as complicity by many people in Egypt and throughout the Arab world, which would risk further tarnishing America's already battered reputation in the region.

Neil Hicks, New York

The writer is international policy adviser for Human Rights First.

Post a Comment

Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company