From the Cuban Revolution to the present day, the US attests that Havana is holding thousands of political prisoners in decrepit jails, without actually bothering to examine their own assertions. In 1980, Cuban President Fidel Castro called America’s bluff by releasing 125,000 prisoners and sending them on boats headed towards Miami in an event history remembers as the Mariel Boatlift. When many Americans including Cuban-Americans saw Castro’s “political prisoners”, some were surprised to find that among these ‘oppressed dissidents’ were hardened criminals and the criminally insane. The result was a dramatic increase in crime for ordinary citizens of Miami, as was immortalised in the Hollywood film Scarface.
Today, Egypt faces a misunderstanding from prominent western European politicians which is not dissimilar to that which Cuba faced, even though Egypt is formally non-aligned where in spite of participating on the Non-Aligned Movement, Cuba was firmly tied to the so-called Communist bloc of nations during the Cold War, while it retains a leftist government to this day. In Egypt, jailed members of the terrorist group Muslim Brotherhood are seen by many European leaders as ‘political prisoners’, as though unaware that after a coup, Egypt was ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood under a regime that brought misery, violence and degradation to the Egyptian state between 2012 and 2013.
For Egypt, the solution is simple. If European politicians are so concerned with the fate of Muslim Brotherhood terrorists in Egyptian prisons, Cairo could simply put many if not most of them on one-way boats to Europe and let European leaders deal with Egypt’s problem. If European politicians continue to insult Egypt in this way, President el-Sisi should simply do what Castro did and say “they’re on their way to you”. If European leaders complain at such a stage, Cairo could ask them for so-called “aid money” in order to keep the terrorists behind bars rather than allow them to add to the European refugee crisis.
Developing countries cannot and must not allow Europe to exercise its hypocrisy over the selective condemnation of terrorism in order to sow strife and jeopardise the safety of developing countries. Egypt which is still attempting to find its place in the wider geopolitical puzzle that is the Middle East must take a stand against European sympathisers with a terrorist group proscribed not only in Egypt but also in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Russia. It is time for President el-Sisi to call Europe’s dangerous bluff on the Muslim Brotherhood.