Egypt. As part of the fight against Islamist movements,
in February, Parliament extended for a further three years
the exception laws that allow detainees to be detained
without trial, to censor the media and to put civilians
before military courts. The exceptions have been in force
since the assassination of President Anwar as-Sadat in 1981.
The government justified the extension that the state needs
to expand powers to continue privatizations and attract
investors to the country.
Countryaah, a government reform in July was considered to accelerate
economic reform. Yusuf Butrus-Ghali was appointed new
Minister of Economy with many years of experience in reform
work. The economic situation in Egypt was considered quite
favorable and the government expected that investment would
increase significantly compared to 1996, when the
privatization process tended to slow down.
General Mustafa Abd al-Qadir, former head of the security
service and as such the supreme leader in the fight against
armed Islamists, was appointed governor of the troubled
province of Minya some 30 kilometers south of Cairo. Shortly
after he took office, Minya police said they had killed 13
Islamists and seized hundreds. However, long prison
sentences, death sentences and executions did not appear to
have a deterrent effect. About 20 Coptic Christians were
killed in two assaults at the beginning of the year and in
October eleven police officers were killed in Minya. Nine
German tourists were killed in September when fire bombs
were thrown at their bus outside the Egyptian Museum in
Cairo. Two brothers were later sentenced to death for the
assault. Of the 90 death sentences sentenced to Islamist
violent crimes since 1992, 57 had been enforced until
In November, the world was shocked by Islamist fanatics'
assault on tourists at an ancient temple in the classic
resort of Luxor. 58 tourists were killed, most of them Swiss
and Japanese, and in a subsequent firefight, four police
officers and six terrorists were shot dead. The attack was
the worst so far in Egypt and prompted other tourists to
leave the country quickly. So far, the terrorists have
succeeded in their intent: to target the Egyptian tourism
industry. The lack of security also led to the dismissal of
the Interior Minister.
The September 2001 terrorist attack on the United States
led to a drastic decline in tourism revenue, which remains
an important source of currency. Egypt, therefore, had to
borrow foreign loans to cover the deficits that had arisen.
In March 2002, Mubarak made a trip to Washington to present
Bush his own plan for peace between Israel and Palestine.
The plan was to start with a summit between the two parties
in the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Prior to
his trip, he had spoken on the phone with his Israeli
colleague Ariel Sharon"We didn't solve all the problems in
the few minutes, but this meeting can help break the
stalemate... by showing them in conversation," Mubarak
declared. In the future, Mubarak may receive more support
from the United States than Israel, and at the same time
Mubarak wants to maintain his close relationship with Yasser
Arafat, making him an ideal peace broker.
During Israel's total re-occupation of Palestine in the
spring of 2002, Mubarak strongly condemned Israel, accusing
the country of being guilty of state terrorism for its
violation of the Geneva Conventions and the basic human
rights of the Palestinians. He referred here directly to the
Israeli massacre at the refugee camp in Jenin. Finally, he
referred to certain international powers - the United States
- who ran from their international obligations, and lost all
Egypt's involvement in the Israel-Palestine conflict and
the constant Israeli assaults led the country initially to
reject the United States' call to support the superpower's
conquest of Iraq. Instead, Mubarak declared that the
superpower should prioritize resolving the conflict between
Palestine and Israel, and that the superpower's conquest
plans for Iraq would simply create 100 new Bin Ladens.
In September 2003, the authorities released the Islamic
leader, who in October 1981 had ordered the then President
Anwar al Sadat murdered. Karam Zohdy then sat in the
leadership of the Islamic group al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, the
country's most important armed rebel group.
In the first days of January 2004, Iran's Vice President
Mohammad Ali Abtahi declared that his country and Egypt
would resume diplomatic relations.
A terror attack on the Hilton Hotel in Taba and a camp
for backpack tourists in Ras Shitani in Sinai on October 7,
2004 cost at least 34 lives and over 100 injured - many
Israelis. In the following weeks, the security forces
arbitrarily arrested several thousand people, and according
to. a Human Rights Watch report published in January 2005,
many of them were tortured. By the time of the report, 2,400
people had disappeared. The mass arrests were carried out
without arrest warrants or legal authorization, as otherwise
required by law. However, the extensive arrests and torture
had identified only 9 suspects. Human Rights Watch Middle
East and North Africa Director Joe Stork,
In April 2005, the Supreme Human Rights Council in Egypt
issued its first annual report, which was exceptionally
sharp when taking into account that the council is funded by
the government and its members appointed by the government.
The report criticized Egyptian security forces for routinely
arresting anyone present at a crime scene. They then
routinely use torture of the detainees to obtain
information. This practice has been criticized by
independent human rights groups for years, and it was the
first time it was confirmed by a government organization.
The report also recommended that the state of emergency had
been in 24 years before the parliamentary and presidential
elections were held later that year.