Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Whose Ally Is Egypt, Anyway?

To those Americans who think your freedom of speech is being suppressed, you should be glad you aren’t living in Egypt. Read what is happening to an Egyptian blogger who was convicted of insulting religion and insulting the government of Egypt here.
He received four years in prison, which is a death sentence for him because he “insulted Islam” which, to the members of the Muslim Brotherhood who will be his fellow inmates, is punishable by death. They will invoke Sheria law and take it upon themselves to administer the death penalty.
In America we may write and publish anything we want. Those who insult the President, and their fellow Americans who voted for the President, are free to do so without fear of arrest. You may insult other people’s religion, no matter what religion it is you are insulting, you may insult people for believing in that religion, and you may insult people for not believing in that religion. It is all protected under the First Amendment. It is even legal to criticize people for exercising their First Amendment rights, and to shout them down in public so no one, not even those who paid to hear them speak, can hear what they have to say.
Basically, we Americans are allowed to make up our own rules about what constitutes freedom of speech.
The Egyptian Government has ostensibly imposed sanctions on free speech in the name of stability. As in any tyranny, the government fears that critical voices will weaken the government by causing unrest. It is perfectly legal, in Egypt to refer to non-Muslims as “Infidels,” because that is not, according to Egyptian law, as that is not considered to be anti-Egypt or anti-religion. Certainly, freedom of speech would allow such opinions to be aired, but, when that freedom is used to incite violence, that is trespassing on the rights of others, and is no longer covered under free speech. Even in the U.S., where we enjoy First Ammendment protections, it is illegal to incite violence.
Because the government has declared the radical Muslim political party, the Muslim Brotherhood illegal, the United States sees Egypt as an ally against Islamist terrorists. However, the ban is not against the MB as a terrorist organization, it is as a political party. Egypt is actually appeasing the radicals in this way, allowing them to speak against Christians and Jews, and to foment their brand of Islam in their mosques and schools to incite violence against non-Muslims and Muslim secularists. The so-called “cartoon demonstrations” last year were legal, because they were not against the Egyptian government or Islam, but Christian rights and secular free speech demonstrators are immediately taken to jail and beaten. In further appeasement of the Islamofascist movement, Egypt defied the UN sanctions against the Hamas led Palestinian government by attempting to transfer funds to that government. They also apparently released Abu Ayoud al-Masri from prison to facilitate his taking the leadership of Al Qaeda in Iraq after the death of al-Zaquarwi.
Al Jawraa is a television broadcast company based in Syria that telecasts anti-American, anti-Shiite, anti-Israeli, anti-Iraqi government, and pro Al Qaeda propaganda programming. The Egyptian government provides an up-link for Al Jawraa to the government owned Nilesat telecommunications satellite, facilitating world wide broadcast.
Egypt is seen as an ally against terrorism, and receives at least 2.3 billion dollars a year in foreign aid from the United States. You read that correctly--we taxpayers are supporting an oppressive government, which, in turn supports terrorists. The State Department has applied some pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to relax sanctions against Egypt’s citizens, and has even aided in obtaining the release of some political prisoners. This pressure is usually very light, however, and it seems that the more we give Mubarak, the more he uses it to support Islamofascism. The foreign aid provided by U.S. taxpayers could be used as leverage to ensure that Egypt get in line on human rights and stop supporting terrorism, but, so far, such aid has not been tied to human rights or anti-terrorism. It is time we, as American citizens, pressure our own government to better scrutinize what it is doing with foreign aid money to Egypt.