The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights is one of the longest standing bodies for the defence of human rights in Egypt. In 2003, the government established the National Council for Human Rights.
Shortly after its foundation, the council came under heavy criticism by local activists, who contend it was a propaganda tool for the government to excuse its own violations and to give legitimacy to repressive laws such as the Emergency Law.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life ranks Egypt as the fifth worst country in the world for religious freedom.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan independent agency of the US government, has placed Egypt on its watch list of countries that require close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government.
According to a 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey, 84% of Egyptians polled supported the death penalty for those who leave Islam; 77% supported whippings and cutting off of hands for theft and robbery; and 82% support stoning a person who commits adultery.
In February 2016 Giulio Regeni, an Italian Ph.D student from the University of Cambridge studying trade unions and worker’s rights in the country, was found brutally murdered in Cairo after he went missing in January of the same year.
Subsequently, Italy withdrew its ambassador to Egypt. Egyptian law enforcement produced conflicting information on the fate of the Italian citizen, which was unacceptable to Italian investigators.
As a result, the Italian press and foreign ministry pointed at the systematic human right violations in Egypt, and threatened with political sanctions unless police leadership and practices undergo significant revisions.
Coptic Christians face discrimination at multiple levels of the government, ranging from disproportionate representation in government ministries to laws that limit their ability to build or repair churches. Intolerance of Bahá’ís and non-orthodox Muslim sects, such as Sufis, Shi’a and Ahmadis, also remains a problem.
When the government moved to computerise identification cards, members of religious minorities, such as Bahá’ís, could not obtain identification documents.
An Egyptian court ruled in early 2008 that members of other faiths may obtain identity cards without listing their faiths, and without becoming officially recognised.
Clashes continued between police and supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi, at least 595 civilians were killed in Cairo on 14 August 2013 the worst mass killing in Egypt’s modern history.
Egypt actively practices capital punishment. Egypt’s authorities do not release figures on death sentences and executions, despite repeated requests over the years by human rights organisations.
The United Nations human rights office and various NGOs expressed “deep alarm” after an Egyptian Minya Criminal Court sentenced 529 people to death in a single hearing on 25 March 2014.
Sentenced supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi will be executed for their alleged role in violence following his ousting in July 2013. The judgment was condemned as a violation of international law.
By May 2014, approximately 16,000 people (and as high as more than 40,000 by one independent count), mostly Brotherhood members or supporters, have been imprisoned after the coup after the Muslim Brotherhood was labelled as terrorist organisation by the post-coup interim Egyptian government.
After Morsi was ousted by the military, the judiciary system aligned itself with the new government, actively supporting the repression of Muslim Brotherhood members.
This resulted in a sharp increase in mass death sentences that increased criticism from then-U.S. president Barack Obama and the General Secretary of the UN, Ban Ki Moon.
Homosexuality is illegal in Egypt According to 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center, 95% of Egyptians believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.
In 2017 Cairo was voted the most dangerous megacity for women with more than 10 million inhabitants in a poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation. Sexual harassment was described as occurring on a daily basis.
Freedom of the press
Reporters without Borders ranked Egypt in their World Press Freedom Index as #158 out of 180. At least 18 journalists were imprisoned in Egypt in August 2015.
A new anti-terror law was enacted in August 2015 that threatens members of the media with fines ranging from about US$25,000 to 60,000 for the distribution of wrong information on acts of terror inside the country “that differ from official declarations of the Egyptian Department of Defense”.
Military and foreign relations
Egyptian Armed Forces and Foreign relations of Egypt
The military is influential in the political and economic life of Egypt and exempts itself from laws that apply to other sectors. It enjoys considerable power, prestige and independence within the state and has been widely considered part of the Egyptian “deep state”.
According to the former chair of Israel’s Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yuval Steinitz, the Egyptian Air Force has roughly the same number of modern warplanes as the Israeli Air Force and far more Western tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft batteries and warships than the IDF.
Egypt is speculated by Israel to be the second country in the region with a spy satellite, EgyptSat 1 in addition to EgyptSat 2 launched on 16 April 2014.
The United States provides Egypt with annual military assistance, which in 2015 amounted to US$1.3 billion. In 1989, Egypt was designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States.
Nevertheless, ties between the two countries have partially soured since the July 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, with the Obama administration denouncing Egypt over its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and cancelling future military exercises involving the two countries.
There have been recent attempts, however, to normalise relations between the two, with both governments frequently calling for mutual support in the fight against regional and international terrorism.
However, following the election of Republican Donald Trump as the President of the United States, the two countries are looking to improve the Egyptian-American relations.
Al-Sisi and Trump had met during the opening of the seventy-first session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016. The absence of Egypt in President Trump’s travel ban towards seven Muslim countries was noted in Washington although the Congress has voiced human rights concerns over the handling of dissidents.
On 22 March 2017 it was reported that al-Sisi would be traveling to Washington to meet with Trump on 3 April 2017.
The Egyptian military has dozens of factories manufacturing weapons as well as consumer goods. The Armed Forces’ inventory includes equipment from different countries around the world.
Equipment from the former Soviet Union is being progressively replaced by more modern US, French, and British equipment, a significant portion of which is built under license in Egypt, such as the M1 Abrams tank.
Relations with Russia have improved significantly following Mohamed Morsi’s removal and both countries have worked since then to strengthen military and trade ties among other aspects of bilateral co-operation.
Relations with China have also improved considerably. In 2014, Egypt and China established a bilateral “comprehensive strategic partnership”.
The permanent headquarters of the Arab League are located in Cairo and the body’s secretary general has traditionally been Egyptian. This position is currently held by former foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
The Arab League briefly moved from Egypt to Tunis in 1978 to protest the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, but it later returned to Cairo in 1989.
Gulf monarchies, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have pledged billions of dollars to help Egypt overcome its economic difficulties since the July 2013 coup.
Following the 1973 war and the subsequent peace treaty, Egypt became the first Arab nation to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Despite that, Israel is still widely considered as a hostile state by the majority of Egyptians.
Egypt has played a historical role as a mediator in resolving various disputes in the Middle East, most notably its handling of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the peace process.
Egypt’s ceasefire and truce brokering efforts in Gaza have hardly been challenged following Israel’s evacuation of its settlements from the strip in 2005, despite increasing animosity towards the Hamas government in Gaza following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi and despite recent attempts by countries like Turkey and Qatar to take over this role.
Ties between Egypt and other non-Arab Middle Eastern nations, including Iran and Turkey, have often been strained. Tensions with Iran are mostly due to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel and Iran’s rivalry with traditional Egyptian allies in the Gulf.
Turkey’s recent support for the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its alleged involvement in Libya also made of both countries bitter regional rivals.
Egypt is a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations. It is also a member of the Organisation Internationale de la francophonie, since 1983. Former Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.
In 2008, Egypt was estimated to have two million African refugees, including over 20,000 Sudanese nationals registered with UNHCR as refugees fleeing armed conflict or asylum seekers.
Egypt adopted “harsh, sometimes lethal” methods of border control.
Egypt is divided into 27 governorates. The governorates are further divided into regions. The regions contain towns and villages. Each governorate has a capital, sometimes carrying the same name as the governorate.
Kafr El Sheikh