There is little sign of that happening soon.
With its popularity sinking amid a deep economic crisis, the Egyptian government has made some nominal gestures toward greater political inclusiveness. Egypt formed a presidential pardon committee last year to oversee the releases of hundreds of political prisoners and started a “national dialogue” with political opponents and some activists to discuss a new direction for the country. It has also freed several high-profile dissidents in recent months, including Ahmed Douma, a prominent face of Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring revolution, and Mohamed el-Baqer, a rights lawyer.
But the authorities continue to arrest people for perceived opposition to the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, including, in recent weeks, some who had been released from detention years ago and others whose only offense appeared to be being closely related to known dissidents. Rights groups say Egypt is arresting three people for every prisoner who is released.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a leading rights group, announced on Thursday that it was dropping out of the dialogue at least temporarily after Mohamed Zahran, a founder of Egypt’s teacher’s union who had participated in the dialogue, was detained in late August.
Egypt’s human rights crisis, the group said in a statement, had “reached unprecedented levels.”
After the State Department announcement, Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, called the decision “a missed opportunity to show the world that our commitment to advancing human rights and democracy is more than a talking point.”
Edward Wong contributed reporting from Washington.