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Egypt celebrated International Human Rights Day this week, drawing attention to the country's mixed record, writes Gamal Nkrumah.
On Monday, a ceremony took place at Al-Ahram organised by the Human Rights Capacity Building Project (BENAA, or "Building" in Arabic), during which prizes were distributed to journalists whose writings promote human rights.
Among the topics raised in the winning articles were the role of Internet blogs in enhancing public awareness of human rights, as well as violence against women, the issue of street children and the prickly subject of torture.
"We based the NCHR's third annual report, the Human Rights Situation in Egypt 2006/2007, on complaints received from citizens from all walks of life. We took into consideration infringements and violations of their rights as provided for in the Egyptian constitution, national laws and legislation, and in the international Charter on Human Rights," Boutros-Ghali explained.
He stressed that the focus of the NCHR was to "identify the most serious infringements of human rights."
Ghali also noted that particular problems faced by religious minorities, such as Coptic Christians and Bahaais, had been carefully examined. "However, many Muslims also complained about what they saw as infringements of their human and social rights," Boutros-Ghali added.
"The violation of the rights of one citizen is as important as the collective violation of the rights of many citizens," Boutros-Ghali said.
He said that in the case of the Bahaais, the NCHR had recommended that the religious identity of individuals should not be written on identity cards. This, he noted, was of particular importance to Bahaais and to people who had changed their religious affiliations.
"Religion should be a private matter," Boutros- Ghali insisted. "No citizen should be discriminated against because of his or her religion, gender, race or political affiliation."