Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
9 - 15 December 1999
Issue No. 459
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

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EOHR spurns award

HAFEZ Abu Se'da, secretary-general of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR), has turned down an award by Religious Freedom House, a Washington-based non-governmental organisation. This American NGO confers annual awards on individuals who have contributed to the struggle against human rights violations, particularly those of a religious nature.

In a letter of apology, Abu Se'da, who had been expected to accept the prize on behalf of the EOHR on 10 December, argued that the premise on which Freedom House based its decision was faulty. In a letter to the EOHR, Freedom House had said the organisation deserved the award for the publication of a 1998 report defending the rights of 1,200 Copts who were allegedly tortured by police in the village of Kosheh in southern Egypt.

The EOHR explained in its response to Freedom House that their documentation of torture in that village did not contain references to religious persecution. The organisation said that it had monitored similar violations to which other Egyptians were exposed, irrespective of their religion and political ideologies.

In principle, the EOHR said that it defends religious freedom from civil and political perspectives, addressing the issue of an individual's right to full citizenship, irrespective of religion, sex, language or creed. Therefore, the organisation and its secretary-general affirm that their terms of reference in defending human rights in this country are the international conventions and treaties on the subject, the EOHR said.

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