Democracy Hypocrisy: Neglecting Nour

The administration talks a lot about its principled policy of democracy promotion.

Let’s look at the situation in Egypt. Ayman Nour is “one of only about three dozen opposition members in the 444-seat [Egyptian] Parliament.” Nour was “calling for changes in the Constitution that might allow, among other things, a direct challenge to President Hosni Mubarak if he runs for a fifth term to extend his 24-year rule” — certainly a step forward for Democracy in the region.

In Egypt, members of the parliament are generally immune from prosecution. On January 29, Nour “was called before Parliament and stripped of immunity on 30 minutes’ notice, with no chance to mount a defense.” Here is what happened next:

Nour was thrown into jail, in a textbook example of the way Washington’s Arab allies thwart hopes to expand freedom…They dragged him down the street, then put him in a police van in the middle of Cairo’s busiest square, apparently as an example to the public….Nour is now locked up for at least 45 days of interrogation, and has been refused bail. The charges? Alleged forgery of affidavits used to win legalization last year for his El Ghad (Tomorrow) Party. Fifty such papers were necessary. Nour received thousands, which have been in government hands for months.

What is the administration doing in response? Pressing forward with $1.795 billion in direct aid to the Egyptian Government.