Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Egyptian Political Leader Addresses Human Rights

Ahmed Fathi Sorour, the president of the Egyptian People’s Assembly, spoke about the importance of democracy in ensuring human rights on Wednesday in the Intercultural Center.

Sorour emphasized the significance of democracy in fostering economic, political and cultural growth in a developing country.

“There can be no democracy without human rights and vice versa,” Sorour said. “Democracy cannot be imposed, while human rights, as they are internationally agreed and recognized, should always be promoted and protected, through national collaboration with international mechanisms.”

Sorour said democracy should be maintained internally by each society because a society is more capable than international bodies to cater to the needs of its people, but that the regulation of human rights should be left to international bodies. Sorour said the current “Palestinian dilemma” is an example of why human rights should be internationally regulated.

“If we are honest in reading recent history and identifying causal links, one should accept the conclusion that the failure of the [United Nations] Security Council to live up to its responsibilities under Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter for many decades is a major factor that leads us to the current division among Palestinians, violence and fundamentalism in the Middle East,” Sorour said.

Sorour also explained the “cultural legitimacy” of human rights’ principles in the context of the Arab and Islamic world. Sorour said Islam and human rights are not mutually exclusive.

“Our cultural heritage abounds in precedents and principles in the fields of human rights, even though the terms used in the past differ from those used nowadays,” Sorour said.

At the end of his speech, Sorour discussed globalization and its impact on developing countries, especially Egypt. He criticized the roles of developed countries in aiding the economic progress of developing countries.

“Further obligations of developed countries towards developing countries are not totally met to fulfill the right of the latter’s people’s development,” Sorour said.

Wadhah Al Shugaa (SFS ’12), originally from the Middle East, said he decided to attend the speech because of his interest in obtaining a certificate in Middle Eastern studies.

“The speech was really interesting and his openness to discussion is very interesting. Some of the guests asked very provocative questions. If he was willing to come all the way from Egypt to answer such questions, that is a great step forward,” Shugaa said.

Anne Caroline Huser, an SFS exchange student from Sciences Po, Paris, said she attended the speech because she has been learning Arabic for the past three years and wants to work in the European Union on Middle Eastern relations.

“It was very interesting to see his perspective on human rights as well as his opinion that Egypt would just like to be by itself and without any outside experience. It was a quite enlightening experience,” Huser said.

Sorour was born in the Qena governorate of Egypt. He has a bachelor of arts degree in law from Cairo University, a master’s degree in comparative law from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in law from Cairo University. He has occupied several academic and political posts in Egypt – professor and dean of the Faculty of Law in Cairo University, as well as minister of education from 1986 to1990. “

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