Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has addressed the United Nations General Assembly’s 69th Session, stressing Egypt’s commitment to tackling the “plague” of terrorism while hundreds of supporters stood outside the United Nations in New York.
Upon being called to the podium, the Egyptian President was received with a loud applause from delegates, including world heads of state, of the General Assembly. The applause visibly pleased President Sisi, who immediately acknowledged it by smiling and putting his hands together in a sign of gratitude.
‘A New Egypt’
Minutes after commencing, the President was met with another applause after declaring the intentions of Egyptians to build a “New Egypt.”
“Our aim is to build a New Egypt,” said the President before being interrupted by the clapping of the hall.
“A state that respects the rights and freedoms, honours its duties, and ensures the co-existence of its citizens without exclusion or discrimination. A state that respects and enforces the rule of law, guarantees freedom of opinion for all and ensures freedom of belief and worship to its people. A state that is determined to achieve growth, prosperity, and a promising future that meets the
aspirations of its people,” declared the President after silence had returned to the General Assembly.
To attain this promise, the President stressed that the State should respect and enforce the rule of law, guarantee freedom of speech and religion, and work towards the growth and prosperity of the country.
At the start of his speech, President Sisi had addressed criticism of Egypt’s road map since the ouster of deposed President Mohammed Morsi.
The President said Egyptians had made history in the past two years by first revolting against corruption and despotism to claim their right to freedom, dignity and social justice, and then when they rose up against exclusion and refused to succumb “to the tyranny of a faction who, in the name of religion, put its narrow interests before the interests of the people.”
Terrorism and the threats on the world
The world is starting to grasp the reality of what happened in Egypt, and to understand the circumstances that drove Egyptians to intuitively take to the streets to rebel against the forces of extremism and darkness,” explained the President in his 17-minute speech.
The President added that Egypt had warned the world about the spread of terrorism at the hands of extremists groups.
“The upsurge in extremism and violence perpetrated in the name of religion that the region is currently witnessing is an evidence of the true objectives of these groups that exploit religion,” said Sisi.
“They have transformed the values of justice, compassion and mercy treasured by Judaism, Christianity and Islam, into grim sectarianism and destructive civil and regional wars which continue to claim the lives of innocent people of different religions.”
The President, who showed confidence in his words, asserted that Egypt has suffered from the scourge of terrorism since the 1920s at the hands of a ‘handful of extremists that commit atrocities in the name of religion.’
However, Sisi added that these extremists should not be allowed to abuse Islam and offend the 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe.
“Terrorism is a plague that does not differentiate in its spread between developing and developed societies.”
Tackling problems in the region
Egypt’s President said that extremism and polarisation had led to strife and divisions in the region.
The President called for states in the region to ensure equality among citizens and respect for the rule of law. Sisi added that confronting extremism was also essential in tackling the various crises the region faces.
On Libya, Sisi said that Egypt had partnered with the country’s neighbours to achieve a comprehensive political solution aimed at ending bloodshed and helping strengthen and support elected Libyan institutions.
Turning to Syria, the President added a political framework which reflected the aspirations of the Syrian people without compromising with terrorists or extremists was necessary.
Meanwhile, Sisi hailed the formation of a new government in Iraq, stating that it was a significant development in the path to achieving stability and regaining territories that have fallen under the control of ISIL.
In regards to Palestine, the President stated that the Palestinian issue remained a top priority for Egypt.
“Palestinians still aspire to establish their independent state on the occupied territories in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said the President, adding that Egypt had worked to achieve this goal since the 1970s.
“The continued deprivation of the Palestinian people of their rights is undoubtedly exploited by some to inflame other crises, achieve hidden goals, fragment Arab unity, and impose control on Palestinians under the guise of realising their aspirations.”
Africa was also the focus of President Sisi’s speech. The President urged the world to commit to tackling the outbreak of the deadly ebola virus in Western Africa and reaffirmed Egypt’s continued desire to work with its African partners.
Security Council and Final Applause
Ending his speech, Egyptian President Sisi announced his country’s bid for non-permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council in 2016-2017.
The President added that Egypt, which was last on the Security Council in 1997, aspires to take the seat in 2016 in order to achieve the protect the interests of developing countries as well as to accelerate reform of the United Nations system.
Sisi invited member states to support Egypt’s candidature to the Security Council, adding that as a founding member of the United Nations, Egypt’s vision of international relations is one founded on the respect of the principles of international law, treaties and conventions.
Moments before concluding his speech, the President was once more interrupted with applause upon declaring “long live Egypt!”
“Long live Egypt. Long live the loving people’s of the world. Long live the principles of humanity and the values of tolerance and coexistence. Peace be upon you and God’s mercy and blessings.
Watch the full speech below: