(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/28/21) – The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the largest coalition of major national, regional, and local Muslim organizations, today sent a letter to Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken calling on the Biden administration and Congress to demand that “the Egyptian government halt its plans to conduct a mass execution of democracy activists, faith leaders, and other political prisoners in the coming days.”
The letter was also sent to Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks.
READ: USCMO’s Full Letter to Secretary Blinken https://uscmo.org/BlinkenEgypt
USCMO is requesting the Biden administration and Congress condemn these anti-democratic death sentences, “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.”
On June 18, Egypt’s highest court approved the death sentences, paving the way for mass execution. The court’s decision affirmed its earlier ruling in the illegitimate2018 mass trial of 739 Egyptians who participated in massive anti-coup sit-ins in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square in the summer of 2013.
Since 1978, the US has provided Egypt with over $50 billion in military aid and equipment and $30 billion in economic assistance.
Should the Biden administration and Congress fail to exert political pressure on the Egyptian government, more innocent political prisoners will die.
THE LETTER READS IN PART:
Dear Secretary Blinken:
The US Council of Muslim Organizations and the other signatories to this letter write to ask that you publicly and privately demand that the Egyptian government halt its plans to conduct a mass execution of democracy activists, faith leaders, and other political prisoners in the coming days.
In 2018, the Egyptian government secured the death sentences of twelve political prisoners, including a former government minister who served in the only democratically elected government in the country’s history. The Egyptian High Court approved the sentences last week, paving the way for mass execution.
These convictions and planned executions have been condemned by numerous human rights organizations. Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said that the “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 judicial system.”
Human Rights Watch has described the Egyptian judiciary as being “in the service of repression,” particularly through its 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.”
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued a resolution deploring the Egyptian judiciary’s “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.” These convictions and planned executions have been condemned by numerous human rights organizations.
Indeed, Egypt is ruled by a brutal military dictatorship with no regard for human rights, democracy, or justice. Under the military’s reign, Egypt has become the world’s third-largest executioner. In October and November 2020 alone, the junta executed 57 men and women. A 2020 Amnesty International report found that of those 57 people, over a quarter were “sentenced to death in cases relating to political violence following grossly unfair trials marred by forced ‘confessions’ and other serious human rights violations including torture and enforced disappearances.”
So far in 2021, 51 men and women have been put to death, including a Christian monk. In 2014, Impartial UN experts described the Egyptian government’s mass executions of political prisoners as a “continuing and unacceptable mockery of justice that casts a big shadow over the Egyptian legal system.”
The mass detention of political prisoners has been ongoing since 2013, when the Egyptian military overthrew the democratically elected government and massacred over a thousand anti–coup demonstrators at Rabaa Square, an atrocity Human Rights Watch called “the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history.”
As Americans, we know that Egypt’s military dictatorship benefits greatly from our taxpayer dollars. Because of this support, our nation has both the opportunity and the obligation to stop its planned mass execution of political prisoners. We 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. Detaining and murdering political opponents is wrong, regardless of whether an American ally or an American adversary does it.
If the Biden Administration truly believes that human rights must guide American foreign policy, it 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.
Mr. Blinken, time is of the essence. Twelve people are awaiting their deaths. They will be killed for no other reason than having spoken out against a tyrannical government. The United States has an opportunity to show the world its commitment to freedom and human rights by demanding that the Egyptian regime cancel these death sentences.
We ask you to privately and publicly take steps to stop this injustice and to lend your voice to the cause of political freedom for the Egyptian people.
The US Council of Muslim Organizations
Signatories to this letter:
- American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)
- Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
- Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)
- Muslim American Society (MAS)
- Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA)
- Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA)
- The Mosque Cares (Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed)
- Majlis Ash-Shura New York
- Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)
- Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC)
- Muslim Forum of the Pacific Northwest (MFPNW)
- Islamic Association of North America (IANA)