NCHR head: EU statements on Christians ‘not interference’ in Egypt affairs

Recent statements made by several EU countries concerning the New Year's Eve Alexandria church bombing do not amount to “interference in Egypt's internal affairs,” Boutros Boutros-Ghali, president of the government-run National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), said on Thursday.

"We can't stop anyone from commenting on events, just as we ourselves are allowed to comment on events taking place in Europe or Sudan, for example,” Boutros-Ghali told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

He went on to say such comments by the EU “cannot be considered interference in Egypt’s affairs,” pointing to “a new phenomenon that allows states and organizations to intervene in matters of common interest.”

On Friday, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reportedly sent a letter–signed by the foreign ministers of Italy, France, Poland and Hungary–requesting that the alleged persecution of Christians in the Middle East be discussed at an upcoming meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Frattini’s letter reportedly angered several top Egyptian officials, including President Hosni Mubarak and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, along with the heads of certain religious institutions close to the government.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif on Wednesday stressed that Egypt was capable of protecting its own citizens and rejected all outside interference in its internal affairs. And on Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit asserted that the EU had "no right" to assess Egypt's performance in its dealings with the Coptic Christian community or its handling of Muslim-Coptic relations.

Translated from the Arabic.

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