WHAT IS the U.S. position on democracy in Egypt? The American ambassador in Cairo, Margaret Scobey, was asked that question Dec. 14, during an appearance at an Egyptian university. She said: "In my time in Egypt, I have noticed that many Egyptians are very free to speak out. The press debates so many things."
The assembled students must have wondered if Ms. Scobey was talking about some other country. Egypt is rated 143rd out of 175 countries for press freedom by Reporters without Borders. Independent journalists who dare to criticize President Hosni Mubarak are routinely subjected to lawsuits by ruling party members that can result in prison sentences. Opposition bloggers have been beaten and harassed, and one, who called Mr. Mubarak "a symbol of tyranny," has been imprisoned for nearly three years. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, one of the foremost Egyptian campaigners for democracy, has been in exile since 2007 because of charges stemming from articles that he published in The Post. (c) Washington Post