Merkel's Fascist Guest

"Bloodsuckers," "monkeys," and pigs" -- that's how Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy refers to Jews. Just two weeks ago, Morsy offended a group of U.S. Senators by claiming that Jews control the international media. Morsy also belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, the group whose leader Mohammed Badie was ranked by The Simon Weisenthal Center as the "biggest anti-Semite" on the planet.

But then German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to surprise us all by inviting the Egyptian President to visit Berlin as her guest today -- the same date Hitler took power in 1933. Yet she is doing this despite the fact that Morsy's rhetoric qualifies him as an out-and-out neo-Nazi. This visit is an insult to Germany's struggle against racism and nationalism over the past sixty years.

It's worth noting that Chancellor Merkel, who belongs to the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), will be hosting a dictator whose government persecutes Christians on a regular basis. In Egyptian prisons, there are now at least four Christians (Ayman Youseef Mansour, Gamal Abdou Masoud, Makarem Diab Said, and Bishoy El-Beheri) who have been jailed -- for up to six years -- simply for expressing their Christian beliefs. This is not even to mention the sectarian propaganda released by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian presidency against Christians. Persecution reached its peak last September during the crisis over the film Innocence of Muslims (and which resulted in the destruction of Germany's embassy in Sudan). This campaign of religious intolerance continues today.

This week, Morsy's Muslim Brotherhood accused Egypt's Christians of leading criminal groups that were responsible for the killings of more than 50 people during the past week's anti-government demonstrations.

We democratic activists in Egypt are extremely worried about any military cooperation between Germany and Egypt. Germany has always been one of the largest exporters of weapons to Egypt (right behind the United States). Such worries are particularly pronounced at a moment when the Egyptian police and army regularly use western-supplied weapons to crush non-violent protests that call for freedom and democracy. I don't believe that German citizens accept the notion that they can only support their own economy by selling weapons to dictatorships like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which stand against the rights of their citizens to live in freedom and equality.

Mr. Morsy speaks a lot about respecting court decisions and the rule of law, but at the same time he is protecting a huge number of criminals who are responsible for the death of more than 1200 civilians (over 70 of them were killed after Morsy took power) and the wounding of tens of thousands of protestors since the revolution started. Not a single police or military officer has been punished for these crimes. By contrast, the chief of Military Intelligence, Abdel-Fattah El-Siessy -- who, by the way, oversaw the process of my own torture on February 4, 2011 -- received a promotion from Morsy, who recently appointed him as Minister of Defense. My official complaints have been ignored by all legal institutions in Egypt.

Chancellor Merkel, relations between countries presuppose a certain common ground of shared values. Diplomatic relations should not justify support for dictatorships. Otherwise you should also invite and host both Iran's Ahmadinejad and Sudan's Bashir. I'm sure they are both eager to have better relations with Germany (and to buy more German weapons).

As you know, Chancellor Merkel, your compatriots in East Germany took to the streets against communism and dictatorship in 1953, but their protests were crushed by a government that enjoyed the support of many powerful countries. Please don't help the rising Egyptian dictatorship to crush freedom with Germany's help.

Maikel Nabil Sanad, an Egyptian activist and leader of the "No to Compulsory Military Service" Movement, now lives in Germany. He became a prisoner of conscience after boycotting military trials in August 2011 and spent 130 days on a hunger strike. 

Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images


Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, January 28, 2013

In this week's must-read story, blogger Min Zin shares the story of his homecoming to Burma after sixteen years in exile.

Transparency International co-founder Laurence Cockroft makes the case for G20 action on global corruption.

Our guest blogger from Sudan, Maysoon Al Noujomi, reports on the release from prison of activist Jalila Khamis Koko. (Democracy Lab reported on her case last year.)

Democracy Lab editor Christian Caryl explains why the next stage of Syria's civil war promises to be the bloodiest yet -- and why it will be even harder to stop.

Amid the rumors swirling around the health of President Hugo Chávez, Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez ponders the ideological legacy of El Comandante's fourteen-year rule (Peron or Guevara)? Meanwhile, Juan Nagel argues that Venezuela's oppositionists need to get their act together if they want to have a chance in an upcoming election.

Hemal Shah explains why India needs to reform its tax and labor law if it wants to become a modern economy

Albert Fishlow shows how Argentina's shifting economic policies from the left to the right have left the country failing to live up to its potential.

And now, for this week's recommended reads:

The Guardian's Martin Chulov offers this week's must-read reporting from the war in Syria, filing from the mountains above the Alawite stronghold of Latakia. Veteran journalist Nir Rosen talks about his eight months in Syria in a presentation at the London School of Economics. Aaron Zelin, writing for al-Wasat, provides a breakdown of the Islamist groups that are fighting on the side of the opposition in the Syrian civil war.

Writing from Caracas for The New Yorker, Jon Lee Anderson examines the state of Venezuela after fourteen years of rule by President Hugo Chávez.

The Cairo Review presents an impressive line-up of articles on recent events in Egypt (including contributions by Mohamed A. El-Erian, Rami G. Khouri, Steven Cook, and Jimmy Carter).

In a piece for the Huffington Post, Legatum Institute President Jeff Gedmin offers his assessment of two years of the Arab Spring.

The Council on Foreign Relations presents an update on the global economic system.

Democracy in Africa offers an interview with longtime Africa hand Caroline Kende-Robb, who looks back on key moments in the continent's life in 2012.

International IDEA's Daniel Zovatto argues that 2013 was a key year for Latin America.

Human Rights Watch reports on the harsh conviction of a Thai editor for insulting the monarchy.    

Photo by AZHAR SHALLAL/AFP/Getty Images