Britain: Corbyn says Sisi meeting makes 'mockery' of justice claims

November 8, 2015

Protesters outside 10 Downer Street, while inside Cameron was hosting Sisi. November 5.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has railed at Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to host Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in his London residence on.

“David Cameron's invitation to Britain today of the Egyptian President and coup leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi shows contempt for human and democratic rights and threatens, rather than protects, Britain's national security,” the socialist opposition leader said in a November 4 statement.

Al-Sisi is the former head of Egypt's armed forces who seized power in 2013 after helping topple elected president Mohammed Morsi, and who became president last year. He visited the prime minister's residence in Downing Street on November 5.

Opposition to the Egyptian ruler's arrival has been mounting over his poor human rights record, including the jailing of national and international journalists; police brutality against protesters; and extra-judicial killings.

Critics of the invitation, issued in July, say that it signals a “business as usual” approach by the British government to Cairo — affording international legitimacy to al-Sisi's presidency.

“Support for dialogue and negotiated conflict resolution in the Middle East is vital to us all,” Corbyn said. “But to welcome and bolster with military support the coup leader who overthrew a democratically elected president in 2013 and has presided over the killing and jailing of many thousands since makes a mockery of government claims to be promoting peace and justice in the region.

“Support for dictatorial regimes in the Middle East has been a key factor fuelling the spread of terrorism. Rather than rolling out the red carpet to President Sisi, the prime minister should suspend arms exports to Egypt until democratic and civil rights are restored.”

Human rights groups have held demonstrations across London against the visit. Sameh Shafi, coordinator of the protest group Stop Sisi, told The Guardian: “We're going to make life very difficult for him. The worst thing would be for him to walk in scot-free.

“The aim is to show the opposite of what he's showing — that he's a legitimate president, everyone loves him. The aim of the protest is to show that he's not that person, to show the exact opposite of the message (he wants to convey) and make him famous for his crimes.

“I think the British politicians and everyone here need to understand that his only selling point — that he's a military man who brings stability — is the exact opposite of what's happening [in Egypt].”

US behaviour has been similar to Britain's, with President Barack Obama initially avoiding calling Morsi's ousting a coup — a label that would have obligated the US to suspend aid.

Britain is the largest foreign investor in Egypt, with more than US$20 billion locked into the North African country.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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