CAIRO: Egyptian political activists in the US sent a letter to President Hosni Mubarak last week requesting the implementation of five main democratic reforms, according to the website “The Alliance of Egyptian Americans.
“We call upon you to open a new chapter in Egyptian-American relations by reaffirming Egypt’s respect for human rights, social justice, and principles of democracy, read the letter. “The Egyptian people have the right to enjoy freedom, dignity and good governance.
The letter, which was signed by eight activists, called on the government to end the emergency laws, in force since 1981, release political prisoners, establish a common set of laws regulating the building of places of worship, creating a more democratic system of government, and assigning a committee to rewrite the constitution.
The signatories included Muslim and Coptic democracy advocates and human rights advocates, including the exiled Saad El-Din Ibrahim, Quranist Ahmed Mansour, and the head of the Coptic Assembly of America Cameel Halim.
The letter was released on Feb. 28, three days after the US State Department published a report citing Egypt’s poor human rights record. The Egyptian government has been continuously criticized by rights organizations for its stringent restrictions on freedom of expression, religious freedoms and its failing democracy.
Yet, some progress has been made on the religious freedom and democracy fronts on the heels of the new Obama administration. The release of former Egyptian presidential candidate Ayman Nour was, to some, a first step.
According to Ramsis El-Naggar, a religious freedoms lawyer, the Egyptian government has already started to consider discussing a set of laws that will push the freedom of building places of worship.
“There should be a set of laws governing the freedom to build places of worship including mosques, churches, synagogues, and Bahai temples, said El-Naggar. “I expect that these set of laws will be discussed in the People’s Assembly.
President Mubarak is expected to visit the US next month, his first visit in five years.