Abdel Fattah al-Sisi heads to France on the backdrop of human rights concerns

Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will visit France on Monday in a move aimed at strengthening ties amidst renewed efforts at countering political dissent back at home.

The trip overshadowed the French President’s efforts to bolster the security and deepen economic ties. 

Both countries remain fully committed to managing the political vacuum created in Libya while quelling instability across the region, particularly those from threats arising from Egypt’s jihadist groups.

Also read: Scarlett Johansson calls for freedom for Patrick Zaki and other Egyptian activists

Human rights groups are accusing the French president of rolling the red carpet to the Egyptian leader while turning a blind eye to the violations of people’s freedoms by the Egyptian authorities. The new impetus is probably fueled by the incoming United States administration’s prioritization of human rights abuses in their foreign policy. 

Also read: Macron responds to uproar by Muslim communities

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived in Cairo at the Orly airport for the 3-day visit after where he met the French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The Egyptian president will be welcomed with pomp including a military salute. Last year’s visit by Macron to Egypt bagged the French companies’ business worth €1bn. 

Also read: English news in Cairo

In the 2013 to 2017 period, France was Egypt’s biggest arms supplier. However, those contracts have dried up including deals for new warships and Rafale fighter jets. However, it is largely attributed to financial issues as opposed to human rights concerns. 

In November the French government openly criticized the arrest and detaining of several members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) after their briefing of senior Cairo diplomats was met with a rebuke. However today the government has explained how Paris is adopting a non-confrontational policy where they avoid open criticism instead opting for private case-by-case situations. 

Also read: 80-year-old Algerian woman killed by tear gas in France

There were strained relations in Egypt after the French President defended the caricatures depicting the prophet Muhammed in a manner that greatly displeased the international Muslim community. The French parliament submitted tougher proposals on the sale of military weapons overseas. Previously the deals between France and Egypt were mostly opaque. The report attributed part of the equipment sold to the ongoing crackdown.

The French and Egyptian presidents have shared a cordial relationship and mutual view of several Middle East issues such as the shred suspicion of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Source: Al Jazeera

Ph: Al Arabiya English

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