The Egyptian government is facing renewed international criticism as it continues its tough line against the beleaguered opposition. Yesterday two judges who had spoken out against alleged fraud in last year’s presidential elections faced disciplinary hearings at the High Court in Cairo. One was reprimanded and the other cleared.
The case has become a rallying point for pro-reformists, who turned out in large numbers to support the judges. Police attacked demonstrators, arresting 500 people according to the opposition Muslim Brotherhood. The European Union condemned the crackdown. Amid the violence, there was another blow for the opposition as the country’s highest court rejected an appeal against the imprisonment of a former challenger to President Hosni Mubarak. The United States, which gives Egypt billions of euros in aid each year, issued a fresh condemnation of Mubarak’s government, calling for the immediate release of opposition leader Ayman Nour on humanitarian grounds. Nour was jailed for five years on forgery charges after coming a distant second in the country’s first multi-candidate presidential election last year. He cannot launch another appeal.