Make no mistake; Mohamed Fahmy is not safe yet. He’s out on bail, but a re-trial looms. And given the events of the last few days, and months, there’s no reason to suppose it will go according to what Mr. Fahmy’s supporters, as well as our naïve, ineffectual Conservative government, hope is the plan.
If anything demonstrates that the Conservatives haven’t been wearing their big-boy pants when it comes to foreign policy, because they haven’t any to wear, it’s the Fahmy case. Back when the Egyptian-Canadian journalist was first jailed, the Canadian response was decidedly subdued, even as the leaders of other nations called it what it was: a trumped-up attack on press freedoms. Our Foreign Affairs minister assured us the government was working behind the scenes to secure Fahmy’s release, and that sounded pretty good. For awhile.
Then earlier this month, Baird used the occasion of a trade mission to Egypt to announce that the journalist’s release was “imminent.” Then he announced he was leaving public life, perhaps anticipating that Fahmy’s any-minute-now unjailing would allow him to go out on top. (It’s hard to imagine what else he meant.)
But as both the Canadian Association of Journalists and Fahmy himself have pointed out, it was probably Baird’s premature announcement, and assurance that Fahmy would not be prosecuted if deported to Canada, that scuppered the deal. You can’t go around embarrassing other nations by saying their laws don’t count. Instead, Egypt decided the journalist would be re-tried. And in a court system that last year sentenced 528 people to death en masse, there’s no reason to suppose that logic and justice will prevail this time, either.
Meantime, Stephen Harper maintains the diffident approach that ensured Fahmy would languish in jail in the first place. He’s written letters, his office says. Letters. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott phoned the Egyptian president three times about the incarceration of their guy, which is widely viewed as the key reason he’s back home. With resignations and defections occurring left and right in the Conservative party, Harper may be more concerned right now with saving his own ass than Fahmy’s, but that doesn’t explain his relative inaction of the last 13 months.
Bush league. Harper likes to sabre-rattle about Palestine and Putin, but when the time comes for real action internationally, he punts. It’s an embarrassment. No wonder that wasn’t a Canadian flag Fahmy was waving in court on Friday.