"Bloodsuckers," "monkeys," and pigs" — that’s how Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy refers to Jews. Just two weeks ago, Morsy offended a group of U.S. Senators by claiming that Jews control the international media. Morsy also belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, the group whose leader Mohammed Badie was ranked by The Simon Weisenthal Center as the "biggest anti-Semite" on the planet.
But then German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to surprise us all by inviting the Egyptian President to visit Berlin as her guest today — the same date Hitler took power in 1933. Yet she is doing this despite the fact that Morsy’s rhetoric qualifies him as an out-and-out neo-Nazi. This visit is an insult to Germany’s struggle against racism and nationalism over the past sixty years.
It’s worth noting that Chancellor Merkel, who belongs to the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), will be hosting a dictator whose government persecutes Christians on a regular basis. In Egyptian prisons, there are now at least four Christians (Ayman Youseef Mansour, Gamal Abdou Masoud, Makarem Diab Said, and Bishoy El-Beheri) who have been jailed — for up to six years — simply for expressing their Christian beliefs. This is not even to mention the sectarian propaganda released by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian presidency against Christians. Persecution reached its peak last September during the crisis over the film Innocence of Muslims (and which resulted in the destruction of Germany’s embassy in Sudan). This campaign of religious intolerance continues today.
This week, Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood accused Egypt’s Christians of leading criminal groups that were responsible for the killings of more than 50 people during the past week’s anti-government demonstrations.
We democratic activists in Egypt are extremely worried about any military cooperation between Germany and Egypt. Germany has always been one of the largest exporters of weapons to Egypt (right behind the United States). Such worries are particularly pronounced at a moment when the Egyptian police and army regularly use western-supplied weapons to crush non-violent protests that call for freedom and democracy. I don’t believe that German citizens accept the notion that they can only support their own economy by selling weapons to dictatorships like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which stand against the rights of their citizens to live in freedom and equality.
Mr. Morsy speaks a lot about respecting court decisions and the rule of law, but at the same time he is protecting a huge number of criminals who are responsible for the death of more than 1200 civilians (over 70 of them were killed after Morsy took power) and the wounding of tens of thousands of protestors since the revolution started. Not a single police or military officer has been punished for these crimes. By contrast, the chief of Military Intelligence, Abdel-Fattah El-Siessy — who, by the way, oversaw the process of my own torture on February 4, 2011 — received a promotion from Morsy, who recently appointed him as Minister of Defense. My official complaints have been ignored by all legal institutions in Egypt.
Chancellor Merkel, relations between countries presuppose a certain common ground of shared values. Diplomatic relations should not justify support for dictatorships. Otherwise you should also invite and host both Iran’s Ahmadinejad and Sudan’s Bashir. I’m sure they are both eager to have better relations with Germany (and to buy more German weapons).
As you know, Chancellor Merkel, your compatriots in East Germany took to the streets against communism and dictatorship in 1953, but their protests were crushed by a government that enjoyed the support of many powerful countries. Please don’t help the rising Egyptian dictatorship to crush freedom with Germany’s help.
Maikel Nabil Sanad, an Egyptian activist and leader of the "No to Compulsory Military Service" Movement, now lives in Germany. He became a prisoner of conscience after boycotting military trials in August 2011 and spent 130 days on a hunger strike.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |