Emmanuel Macron to discuss human rights with Egypt′s president | News | DW | 28.01.2019
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Emmanuel Macron to discuss human rights with Egypt's president

Emmanuel Macron has said he will speak openly on human rights with Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi during a three-day trip to Egypt. Macron said Egypt's human rights policies appear to have worsened under the president.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said Egypt's human rights record appears to have worsened under general-turned-President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Macron said he felt the current crackdown on opposition in Egypt, which began after el-Sissi overthrew his elected but divisive Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi in 2013, had become worse than under the country's longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who was overthrown in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

Read more: El-Sissi: Egypt's new strongman

"I think current policies are perceived by intellectuals and Egypt's civil society as tougher than under the Mubarak regime," Macron said on Sunday during a three-day visit to the Arab world's most populated country.

Mubarak, a former air force commander, was jailed for conspiring to kill demonstrators who ended his three-decade rule, but he was freed on appeal in 2017.

"I can't see how you can pretend to ensure long-term stability in this country, which was at the heart of the Arab Spring and showed its taste for freedom, and think you can continue to harden beyond what's acceptable or justified for security reasons," Macron added.

The French president said he would "have a confidential dialogue" with el-Sissi on "individual cases" of imprisoned opponents.

Watch video 01:58

Egypt in the age of el-Sissi

Crackdown affects people 'with no threat to the regime'

Macron said the crackdown had extended from political opponents to include members of civil society.

"Today, it is not simply political opponents who are imprisoned but also opponents who are in the traditional democratic camp, who do not threaten the stability of the regime," he said.

"These are journalists, homosexuals, women and men who have convictions but who seem to pose absolutely no threat to the regime."

Read more: Is Egypt heading toward another uprising?

Despite his concerns, when asked if human rights issues could affect arms sales to Egypt — such as one deal under discussion for additional Rafale advanced fighter jets — Macron said the matters were separate.

"I would differentiate between the two subjects; they are not linked for us and they never were," Macron said.

Macron's delegation includes government ministers, two dozen representatives from academic, cultural, and scientific fields and a dozen business leaders, including the heads of Rafale producer Dassault.

Macron is due to meet el-Sissi later on Monday and will later also meet local business leaders and the heads of Egypt's Christian and Muslim communities in his first trip to Egypt since taking office in 2017.

law/ng (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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