As we all have been fervently watching the news in the past weeks and just yesterday Hosni Mubarak, the President of 30 years stepped down, bringing hope that the Human rights situation that has haunted the country and the world for much of the last century. Egypt in the past holds a record of abuses in elections, some of the worst prisoner where punished and tortured, very limited free speech (again shown by the shut down of the internet), religious persecution of minority religions, and a limited system of social and economic mobility.
Now only of of these actually is in a league of their own for Egypt: It is the Torture, Cruel imprisonment and the numerous cases of extraction and rendition. In the pre Mubarak years, in the wake of the assassinations of Sadat and attempts on Nassir both lead to huge crack down on radical islmasist groups and most notably the Muslim Brotherhood. Members of these organizations were whipped with electrical cords, attacked by dogs, shaved off their beards and hair, water boarded, starved and kept in extreme cases of isolation. These men many times were scholars like Syed Qubt whose imprisonment lead them to radicalized against the government and the west, the very roots of the terrorist groups that America argues we should torture to gain information. In the 1970s, men like ayman al-zawhiri, the mastermind of 9-11, was arrested and dehumanized to the point that he made it his life mission to destroy the society that had created this unjust world.
It has been speculated that it was the very poor, cruel and inhuman conditions that pushed many of groups and individuals to radicalize, not entirely, but if they had been respected as humans maybe they would not have reacted through the violence of needless terrorism. Egypt has now been given a new opportunity to act as the new paradigm for a region that is know for its abysmal human rights record, but how can their new government and America's sway in the region help?
Well I think there are four things that could be done, first and most obvious would be the establishment of transparent and fair courts and prisons in Egypt. Even in this crisis, the police were arrested journalists and human rights activists, this will only limit the free speech allowed for the nation, and the security people feel.
Secondly, Egypt needs to stop doing the dirty world for the Arab world and the US, they need to stop torturing suspected terrorist and focus on creating a functioning multicultural society. If they don't stop these techniques they will still be seen as the servants of American imperialism, and we need to promote less cruel ways of extracting information because not all suspected terrorists are actually terrorists, innocent men and women are affected by our policies.
They need to keep a secular state to protect the religious minority inside and around Egypt. With a Coptic christian population of about 8 million, their security could be a major issue if the government does not help promote a religiously open culture.
And finally, countries like Egypt and Tunisia need to help their neighboring people to actualize their dreams of revolution and to bring the government back to the people, not held in the hands of an intransigent elite.
How can the Arab world and the UN or US help promote human rights in this region in this new time of political upheaval? Or would it be better to leave them alone to arrive at their own moral conclusions?