In a continuation of the NDP delegation visits to the U.S. to pave the way for President Mubarak’s upcoming visit, an Egyptian delegation including a number of NDP parliament and Shura members and NDP-backed civil society figures held a seminar in the American Senate administrative building Wednesday night, March 18, on the “The way to Political Reform in Egypt.” The official ME news agency disseminated news about the delegation including Shura Council members Mohamed Kamal and Mona Dhul-Faqqar in addition to NDP parliament members Sanaa El-Banna, Sayyida Gress, and Mamdouh Khalil. The “regime” delegation proposed the government’s vision of political reform in Egypt claiming that reforms have been progressing as planned.
According to ME news agency, Member of the National Council for Human Rights and UN Committee for Human Rights Mona Dhul-Faqqar pointed out that several legislative reforms in the divorce, elections, citizenship, and child laws have taken place in the past few years.
“Also, bills have been proposed concerning the construction and maintenance management of places of worship and guaranteeing the rights of other religious minorities such as the Baha`is through, for example, personal IDs that contain no reference to their faith,” Dhul-Faqqar added.
“There are other legislative reform efforts such as those seeking to cancel the prison penalty for journalists and the Restrictive laws,” Dhul-Faqqar added contending that the latter is being used by some extremists against intellectuals, researchers, and officials. Dhul-Faqqar expressed her hope that these dynamic changes encourage cooperation with Obama’s administration in the form of a partnership and understanding.
Regarding the presence of torture incidents in Egyptian prisons, Dhul-Faqqar explained that the criminal law is undergoing amendments to prevent these practices which she described as “individual” in addition to coordination efforts with the Attorney General for supervising and searching the prisons, cells, and police centers.
Dhul-Faqqar further referred to the dismissal and denunciation of a number of police officers who proved to be involved in such acts and the firm and strong stances which the National Council for Human Rights took against these practices.
Dhul-Faqqar continued, “The proposed amendments for the NGO law include permission for funding organizations with government notification of the sources of these funds.”
Dhul Faqqar also said that she sees nothing preventing the MB from becoming a political party provided that they “accept the rules of the game, avoid establishing their party on the basis of religion, acknowledge women’s right in governance and management and the rights of religious minorities to participate.” At the same time, Dhul-Faqqar refused governments’ exploitation of the issues of Hamas or the MB in suppressing and hindering the reform process.
On the other hand, Shura Council Member Mohamed Kamal pointed out that there are 25 officially recognized political parties in Egypt but that most of them are small and weak whether at the popular or parliament representation level attributing their weakness to internal differences between their leaders and the rigidity of their thought. Kamal, however, requested that all secular parties be granted a wider scope in the public media.
Commenting on the issue weapon smuggling, Kamal said, “It is not in Egypt’s interest to smuggle weapons to Gaza across its borders” pointing out that smuggling operations not only take place via the Egyptian borders but also via the oceans and Israeli borders.
“Egypt doesn’t smuggle weapons to Hamas because it does not agree with its ideology which is derived from that of the MB in Egypt,” Kamal added.
In a similar context, MP Sayyida Gress added, “Egypt is committed to monitoring its borders by virtue of the peace agreement signed with Israel which prevents the presence of military forces on these borders. However, cooperation with the international community is needed in order to lift the siege on Gaza.”
MP Mamduh Khalil further added, “The MB has an agenda for the whole region, their actions in Egypt are dependent on uneducated people and the attraction of people through religion, and they don’t acknowledge the rights of women or Copts.”
In a different context, MP Sanaa El-Banna said, “the Egyptian parliament is about to take steps that will boost and activate its powers including endorsing the bill of checks and balances.”