In a joint press conference between French President Emmanuel Macron and Egypt’s Abdelfattah El Sisi about human rights, Sisi said that “Egypt will not rise up with bloggers… Egypt will develop with efforts and patience.”
This was a response to some of the remarks made by Macron during El-Sisi’s visit to France in October of 2017, where the French president discussed with El-Sisi that the detained Egyptian bloggers and influencers do not “undermine stability.”
“What should I do with employment? Rising population? How do we solve these problems? Tell me,” Egypt’s president said.
He also highlighted that Egypt has nothing to hide and emphasized that the bloggers”speak a language that is different from the reality in which we live.”
“We lead our state with honesty and integrity,” El-Sisi added, “We do not want to confine the issue of human rights in Egypt to freedom of expression, people’s opinions are one thing, and the destruction of the state is another.”
On the first day of his trip to Egypt, Macron said that the human rights situation is perceived as tougher than under Mubarak, and that it threatens the country’s stability, Reuters reported.
“I think current policies are perceived by intellectuals and Egypt’s civil society as tougher than under the Mubarak regime,” Macron told reporters on the sidelines of a trip to Egypt.
“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,” he added.
“I think that’s becoming paradoxical and harmful for Egypt itself.”
However, at the same time, Macron insisted that it was necessary to maintain bilateral relations with Egypt, and that he’ll seek a “balance” by raising the subject of human rights while not cutting off dialogue.
Macron faces pressure at home from rights activists and non-governmental organizations to be firm with the Egyptian president, as he refused to lecture him on civil liberties the last time the two presidents met in 2017.
“I believe in the sovereignty of states. So in the same way that I do not accept other leaders giving me lessons on how to govern my country, I don’t lecture others,” Macron reportedly said at a news conference in 2017.
However, a presidential advisor in Elysee told Reuters that there has been an ‘evolution’ in Macron’s thinking, and that the French president has decided to raise subjects of human rights to the Egyptian president.