Deja vu at Foggy Bottom

Blah blah blah... deeply concerned... blah blah blah... troubled... blah blah blah:

QUESTION: On Egypt. Do you have an update on the case of Mr. Sharkawi? Have you talked to the Egyptian Government about his situation?

MR. CASEY: Yeah. I do have a little bit. I know this is a subject that we talked about briefly the other day. And as you know as a matter of general principle, we're deeply concerned by reports of continuing arrests and repression of civil society activists by the Egyptian Government. But we are troubled by the recent reports that Mohammed el-Sharkawi as well as Karim Shaer, another civil society activist, were arrested. And during their arrest and detention were tortured in custody and then denied independent medical treatment. If those allegations are true, that would certainly be a violation of Egypt's own laws as well as accepted international human rights standards and practices.

The Embassy in Cairo has raised this issue with Egyptian officials. And first and foremost, we're urging them to provide any and all necessary medical treatment to Mr. Sharkawi and Mr. Shaer and to thoroughly investigate these cases and any others like them. Certainly, if the allegations are true, what we want to see happen is that the Egyptian Government should take immediate steps to punish those responsible and put into place institutional measures to prevent those kinds of incidents from occurring. And as you know, we continue not only in these cases but in others as well to urge the Egyptian Government to protect the rights of their citizens to assemble and speak out peacefully. And we've noted our concerns about, as you know, a number of the other cases as well.
I'm deeply concerned my neighbor may be torturing his son with those tools I lent him. I wonder if I should do anything about it. Oh no wait, maybe he'll stop if I lend him my lawnmower too.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.