UK government faces protests ahead of Sisi’s visit

Activists in the UK gather to protest visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al Sisi speaks at the inauguration of the International Institute of Strategic Studies conference

British activists are questioning the government’s self-professed commitment to human rights ahead of the visit of President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al Sisi who will be arriving on Wednesday afternoon in London.

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron invited Sisi to London five months ago in order to cooperatively stand against terrorism and extremism, he said this would be an “opportunity to hold open and frank dialogue.”

Activists hold Sisi responsible for killing thousands of people and violating human rights, they accuse him of carrying out a coup against toppled leader Mohamed Morsi.

Protesters also accuse Sisi’s regime of killing several hundred people who died in the streets and the Rabaa al Adawiya square, which the Egyptian Cabinet later decided to change the name to the Hisham Barakat square, after the lawyer who was killed in a bomb attack on his convoy.

Human Rights Watch described the Rabaa massacre, which took place on August 2013, as “one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day”.

Riot police clear the area of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, at Rabaa al Adawiya square / Photo by Reuters (Archive)

Sisi’s visit will be his first visit after becoming president last year. His visit will be with the aim of improving ties with the UK.

“Stop Sisi” campaign member Sarah Ahmed said that the invitation of Sisi by Cameron is horrendous as he has repeatedly violated human rights since he came to power.

“Under Sisi's rule, Egyptians have witnessed unprecedented levels of oppression. Thousands of people have been killed; 40,000 people have been detained for political reasons; and the government has been quick to silence any voice of dissent, imprisoning minors and journalists alike,” Ahmed said.

Conservative commentator Peter Oborne said at a press conference that the issue is not a matter of left or right adding “This is a matter of right and wrong. And it is entirely wrong that President Sisi should come here to Britain.”

He added that invitation of “a bloodstained dictator with mass murder on his record” is contradictory with “British values.”

Sisi to address Libya and DAESH

After protests against Sisi’s visit, the UK government responded with saying that the visit is regarding Britain’s national interests.

Patrick Stopford said in the House of Lords in response to a question concerning parliament on Monday that both countries must work together to bring stability to Libya and also to combat DAESH and counter extremism.

He said “The United Kingdom is also committed to supporting political progress and economic development in Egypt, which will be the foundations of its future stability,” adding “President al-Sisi’s visit to the United Kingdom will be an opportunity to hold an open and frank dialogue on all these issues and to develop a program of practical co-operation.”

Sisi said in an interview by London-based daily Telegraph on Tuesday that NATO members should "help the Libyan people and the Libyan economy" and "stop the flow of funds and weapons" to "extremists".

TRTWorld and agencies