Canada and the U.S. are failing to make full use of the economic and diplomatic tools available to combat repression in Egypt, say two experts on the region.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the restoration of $575 million in military aid to Egypt — money that was partly withheld after the military takeover that saw former president Mohammed Morsi removed from power.
But a day later, in a move condemned by journalists around the world, three Al-Jazeera journalists, one of them Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, were sentenced to years in prison on charges of spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.
“What the ruling says is that in Egypt journalism can be a crime,” said Sharif Abdel Kouddous, a reporter with the American independent news program Democracy Now.
But political leaders in Canada and the U.S. were largely silent, leaving the world to believe they accept the kinds of human rights abuses becoming widespread under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, observers say.
“We have to do something to say that is not acceptable. There are so many tools at our disposal,” said Bessma Momani, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and an associate professor of political science at the University of Waterloo.
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