As the most populous Arab country, Egypt has long played a unique role in the Middle East and has been an important U.S. ally in the region.Egypt was also seen as a key focal point of the Bush administration's "freedom agenda," with U.S. pressure to reform hailed as leading to political openings by 2005. However, more recently, the Egyptian government has taken a series of regressive steps with regard to respect for human rights and the rule of law.Numerous political activists and dissidents remain in Egyptian prisons on dubious charges, including former presidential candidate Ayman Nour and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.Most recently, leading political reform activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison on charges of "tarnishing Egypt's reputation."What is the extent of Egypt's regression on human rights and rule of law? What actions has the Egyptian government taken in this regard? Against what political backdrop are such steps being taken?What has been the role of the Egyptian judiciary in this regard? What are the consequences of such steps on the Egyptian political scene and the prospect for stability in Egypt?How has the U.S. government reacted to the deterioration of the rule of law in Egypt? What policy options are available for addressing these issues?And what may we expect in the months and years ahead in Egypt? - Project on Middle East Democracymoreless
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