Activists protest in Paris over Sisi's France visit

Human rights activists protest in Paris over Egyptian President Sisi's France visit
2 min read
08 December, 2020
Several called for the demonstration in Paris, accusing Egypt's Sisi of human rights violations in his crackdown on dissent.
Rights groups are protesting over a continued authoritarian crackdown on activists in Egypt [Getty]
Scores gathered outside Paris' National Assembly building on Tuesday to protest against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's visit to France and call for pressure the authoritarian ruler.

The demonstration was organised by over 20 non-governmental organisations last week, coinciding with Sisi's three-day official visit to France at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Protesters held banners and signs warning of a "human rights emergency" in Egypt.

NGOs accuse Sisi of human rights violations and "brutal repression of any form of dissent" and have repeatedly called on Macron to bring up the issue with his Egyptian counterpart.

Macron has refused to discuss human rights violations by Cairo during Sisi's visit. He told reporters on Monday: "I don't take lessons in how to lead from any other leader, just as I don't give lessons myself."

Macron also said that he would not tie future French arms sales to Egypt to human rights reforms, justifying this by saying it would weaken the Sisi regime's ability to fight "terrorism".

"I will not condition matters of defence and economic cooperation on these disagreements [over human rights]," Reuters quoted the French leader as saying.

Read also: Chilling rise' of executions in Egypt, Amnesty warns

Egypt and France have enjoyed an increasingly close relationship under the secular rule of former army general Sisi, with common interests in the Middle East and a shared suspicion of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

But France's close relationship with Egypt at a time when Cairo stands accused of serial human rights violations has concerned activists, who want Macron to make the issue central to the discussions.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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