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Egypt slams Turkey for EU-Arab summit criticism

Egypt's foreign ministry accused Turkey's Erdogan of partisanship towards the Muslim Brotherhood [AFP]

Date of publication: 27 February, 2019

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Egypt's foreign ministry accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of partisanship towards the Muslim Brotherhood after Turkish criticism of EU leaders for meeting their Arab counterparts.

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Egypt hit back at Turkish criticism of EU leaders for meeting their Arab counterparts in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh just days after Cairo executed nine people, reports said on Wednesday.

The foreign ministry accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of partisanship towards the Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed Islamist movement that Egyptian authorities have said inspired the nine men executed last week to carry out the 2015 murder of the country's top prosecutor. 

His statement "clearly involves hatred and expresses its (Turkey's) continued embrace and support of the Muslim Brotherhood," ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said.

He accused Erdogan of hypocrisy, citing a list of alleged human rights abuses by Ankara.

"This ... illustrates the lack of credibility of what the Turkish president is promoting," Hafez said. 

Erdogan accused the European Union of insincerity on Tuesday for attending the joint summit hosted by his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday and Monday.

"Can we talk about democracy in EU member countries who accepted the invitation of Sisi, who has executed 42 people since he came to power and nine young people last week, although capital punishment is banned (in the EU)?" he asked.

"It is not possible to understand them. The EU is not sincere."

Since Sisi overthrew elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, an Erdogan ally, when army chief in 2013, members of the group have found refuge in Turkey as it has faced a sweeping crackdown at home.

It is deemed to be one of the largest crackdowns on dissent in the country's modern history since the military overthrow of Egypt's first democratically-elected President Morsi in 2013.

Sisi's regime has arrested or charged at least 60,000 people since the 2013 coup, human rights groups say.

Relations between Ankara and Brussels have been strained, especially since 2016 over the EU's criticism of the scale of the post-coup crackdown and Turkey's claim the bloc failed to show solidarity after the attempted overthrow.

Amid EU tensions, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy last week said it was "absolutely unacceptable" that the European Parliament foreign affairs committee called for Ankara's membership negotiations to be officially suspended.

Egypt has outlawed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation and handed down death sentences or lengthy prison terms against hundreds of its leaders, many of them after mass trials lasting just days. 

The nine men executed on February 20 were convicted of a June 2015 Cairo car bombing  that killed prosecutor general Hisham Barakat following jihadist calls for attacks on the judiciary to avenge the government's crackdown on Islamists.

The authorities hanged them despite 11th-hour pleas from human rights groups for a stay of execution.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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