President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said he understands some western concerns over human rights issues in Egypt, but urged critics to bear in mind the current circumstances amid “persistent attempts from evil powers” that aim to isolate the country.
Sisi spoke during a news conference with French President Francois Hollande in Cairo on Sunday, where they discussed regional issues and bilateral relations.
Egypt has been facing mounting criticism over its human rights record, especially following the murder of Italian student Gulio Regeni whose body was found, bearing signs of torture, in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo on 3 February.
“I offered my condolences over the death of the Italian student more than once and I said we are transparent and ready to receive any Italian investigative team to assure them [over the investigations],” Sisi told a news conference following a question to Hollande by a French journalist over Egypt’s human rights record.
“But I want to clarify something important to the European community and Egyptians as well: There are attempts to down Egypt’s institutions such as the police, judiciary and even the parliament.
“Those attempts aim at isolating Egypt from its Arab and European roles. Our job is to protect a nation of 90 million people; you can’t imagine what will happen to the whole world if this country falls.”
Egypt ‘human rights vision’
Sisi also said it would be “difficult to implement the European standard of human rights in a country of 90 million people that is fighting terrorism.”
Hollande said he spoke with Sisi “in details” about human rights issues but that France greatly needs to cooperate with Egypt in the fight against terrorism.
“I discussed with President El-Sisi the murder of Regeni in Cairo as there are many questions regarding this and other incidents,” Hollande said, though he added that “we cannot neglect the importance of Egypt in terms of fighting terrorism and facing extremism.”
Sisi said that uprooting terrorism not only need security solutions, but also a comprehensive way to tackle extermist ideologies.
“Any organisations bent on destroying and controlling parts of the state need to be confronted by all means. We must also stop their source of funding,” he stated.
Sisi and Hollande also agreed on the necessity of supporting a Libyan unity government that is accepted by Libyans, with the Egyptian president also calling for the lifting of an arms embargo on the country as it grapples with terrorism.
Libya’s new U.N.-backed unity government has secured six ministry buildings in Tripoli and will take administrative control of some of them on Monday, a deputy prime minister said earlier on Sunday, despite the volatile security situation.
Hollande started a two-day visit to Cairo on Sunday, his second in less than a year. The French president last visited Egypt in August 2015 when he attended the inauguration of the New Suez Canal.
The visit aims at boosting economic ties between the two countries, with both presidents signing agreements in a number of fields and projects, including electricity, generating renewable energy, the Cairo metro and sewage system projects.
source: Ahram Online