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Egyptian Lawmakers to Washington: Don’t Tell Us Not to Kill Civilians If You’re Going To

Politicians in Egypt are calling the United States out for hypocrisy in the wake of police shootings.

CAIRO, EGYPT - JANUARY 28:  A riot policeman fires tear gas at protestors in front of the l-Istiqama Mosque in Giza on January 28, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. Thousands of police are on the streets of the capital and hundreds of arrests have been made in an attempt to quell anti-government demonstrations.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JANUARY 28: A riot policeman fires tear gas at protestors in front of the l-Istiqama Mosque in Giza on January 28, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. Thousands of police are on the streets of the capital and hundreds of arrests have been made in an attempt to quell anti-government demonstrations. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

In August 2013, supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi gathered to protest his removal from power. They were greeted with bullets from Egyptian security forces, who gunned down some 900 of them in a single day. Then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who oversaw the crackdown, would later be elected president.

Since then, incidents of police and military brutality have repeatedly rocked Egypt. In January, Italian student Giulio Regeni disappeared, and his body was later found with signs of torture. Egyptian officials insist they were not responsible for his death, but Italy recalled its ambassador to Cairo over the incident.  

In February, hundreds of civilians stormed Cairo’s streets to protest the brutal murder of 24-year-old Mohamed Ismail, a taxi driver who was arguing with an Egyptian cop when the officer took out his pistol and shot him in the head.

But after a pair of unarmed black men were killed in Minnesota and Louisiana last week, Egyptian lawmakers expressed outrage at the prevalence of police brutality in a country that has “an alleged respect for human rights.”

Margaret Azer, the deputy chairman of Egypt’s parliamentary human rights committee, said in a statement that the killings provided an opportunity to “expose the bloody face of the United States and its politicized use of the issue of human rights to extort other nations.”

Her statement went on to say that the U.S. “was ‎caught red-handed violating human rights and crushing ‎the peaceful protests of black Americans in the city of ‎Dallas and other U.S. cities.”‎

Yosri el-Moghazi, an independent member of parliament, said in a separate statement that recent incidents of police brutality in the United States meant  Washington had lost credibility on the issue of human rights. He also called for a special meeting of the parliament’s human rights committee “to review bloody incidents in ‎America and give its opinion about these incidents.”  

Another lawmaker, Ilhami Agina, said he had written to Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to ask that he summon U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Stephen Beecroft over the matter. “Obama, who came to Cairo in 2009 to ‎give us a long lecture on human rights, might have ‎forgotten that it is America that needs radical reform,” he said.

Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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