Human rights council members resign over Brotherhood influence

The deputy head of the National Council for Human Rights Abdel Ghaffar Shokr and board member Mohamed Zaraa submitted their resignations Wednesday as five other members threatened to withdraw in protest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s dominance over the organization.

Sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Hisham Mubarak Law Center Director Ahmed Saif Islam, Nile Center for Economic and Strategic Studies head Abdel Khaleq Farouq, Egyptian Social Democratic Party leader Ehab al-Kharrat, leftist activist Wael Khalil and Coptic thinker Hanna Grace threatened to resign after holding a joint meeting on Tuesday evening following an emergency board meeting.

They cited the “shifting role of the council from monitoring human rights to serving as a political council that works according to the vision of the members of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.”

The new constitutional declaration and the delayed announcement of the organization’s role encouraged the resignations and withdrawal threats, the sources added.

Council head Hossam al-Gheriany, who also leads the country's controversial assembly drafting the new constitution, denied that Shokr resigned in protest, saying that he had frozen his membership for personal reasons.

In response to Al-Masry Al-Youm’s question, Gheriany said: “Shokr withdrew Tuesday for health reasons. I did not receive Shokr’s official resignation and even if he resigned, I would not accept it because I am determined that he continues with us,” Gheriany said.

The Shura Council’s general committee in September formed the new NCHR, choosing mostly members with an Islamist background.

The NCHR was formerly dominated by the now-dissolved National Democratic Party. The regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak used the council to polish its tarnished record of human rights abuses.

The committee appointed Gheriany, the current head of the Constituent Assembly who is known to have Brotherhood sympathies, as the acting head of the NCHR while Shokr was named as his deputy.

Many members are known for their Islamist orientation, including former presidential candidate for the Salafi Asala Party Abdullah al-Ashal, former Salafi Nour Party MPs Talaat Marzouk and Abdallah Badran, and pro-Brotherhood preacher Safwat Hegazy. Muslim Brotherhood leaders Mohamed al-Beltagy, Mahmoud Ghozlan, Mohamed Tosoun and Hoda Abdel Moneim, as well as the group’s lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, also sit on the council.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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