In a move that may violate the country’s constitution, Egypt’s Parliament voted on Monday to expel one of its own members who was unabashedly critical of the country’s human rights record.
Mohamed Anwar Esmat al-Sadat was expelled by 468 of his 596 peers, more than the required two-thirds vote necessary to expel another member. He was cast out over accusations of leaking information concerning domestic affairs to international groups and institutions, as well as accusations of fraud and helping cause internal strife and low esteem within Parliament as a result of his actions.
If Sadat was indeed expelled from Parliament due to being an outspoken critic of human rights abuses, this sets a dangerous precedent. The Egyptian constitution provides for not only the freedom of speech but also the freedom of the press. The ability to suppress speech critical of government — especially within the government itself — erodes the institution of freedom of speech and opinion.
The Parliament is dominated by ardent supporters of the current president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.
“I answered the accusations with documents and demanded they be investigated by the judiciary,” Sadat said in a statement on Monday. “The Parliament dropped my membership based on false accusations.”
Sadat, a nephew of the late President Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat, was a prominent and influential member of the Parliament, and was the chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on human rights until he resigned from the position last August over the inability to quell constant abuse accusations.
This is not the first time Sadat has run afoul of his politician colleagues. Al-Monitor.com states:
“Egyptian member of parliament for three consecutive terms since 2005, founder and subsequent president of the Reform and Development Party, and nephew of late President Anwar Sadat, Mohamed Anwar Esmat al-Sadat affirmed that he and his family fell victim to many difficult circumstances due to their political stances, including being stripped of his membership in the 2007 People’s Assembly, only 48 hours after being elected, in a precedent never before seen in the Egyptian parliament. He also recounted seeing his brother Talaat, also an MP, jailed for one year after being convicted by a military court of contempt of the military, which he accused of complacency in protecting President Anwar Sadat when the latter was assassinated in 1981.”
According to The New Arab, “a number of fellow MPs also left the chamber in solidarity claiming that a report condemning Sadat had been hurried through Parliament without due diligence, or allowing MPs to come to terms with the case.”
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