As the most populous Arab country, Egypt has long played a unique role in the Middle East and has been an important U.S. ally in the region. Egypt was also seen as a key focal point of the Bush administration’s “freedom agenda,” with U.S. pressure to reform hailed as leading to political openings by 2005. However, more recently, the Egyptian government has taken a series of regressive steps with regard to respect for human rights and the rule of law.  Numerous political activists and dissidents remain in Egyptian prisons on dubious charges, including former presidential candidate Ayman Nour and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Most recently, leading political reform activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison on charges of “tarnishing Egypt’s reputation.”

What is the extent of Egypt’s regression on human rights and rule of law? What actions has the Egyptian government taken in this regard? Against what political backdrop are such steps being taken? What has been the role of the Egyptian judiciary in this regard? What are the consequences of such steps on the Egyptian political scene and the prospect for stability in Egypt? How has the U.S. government reacted to the deterioration of the rule of law in Egypt? What policy options are available for addressing these issues?  And what may we expect in the months and years ahead in Egypt?


Michele Dunne, Senior Associate and Editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of the September/October 2008 article “A Post-Pharaonic Egypt” in the American Interest

Neil Hicks, International Policy Advisor for Human Rights First and former Director of the Human Rights Defenders Program

Marc Lynch, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, where he teaches courses on Middle Eastern politics and international relations

Ambassador Nicholas Veliotes, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs and former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Jordan

Moderated by Stephen McInerney, Director of Advocacy, Project on Middle East Democracy

Event Details:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
2:00 – 3:30 pm
Cannon House Office Building, Room 210

Click here to read a summary of the event

Click here to view a video recording of the event