Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was welcomed to Paris on Monday (October 23) by French Defence Minister Florence Parly for a three-day visit, where French President Emmanuel Macron, conscious of criticism of France’s policy on Egypt, is expected to raise his concerns over human rights.
The two countries have nurtured closer economic and military ties in recent years and with Sisi’s rise to power that relationship has improved with both sides concerned by the political vacuum in Libya and the threat from jihadist groups in Egypt.
But human rights organisations at home and overseas have accused France under Macron of remaining silent in the face of increasing violations of freedoms by Sisi’s government as the 2018 presidential elections approach.
Rights’ groups are in particular critical of the relationship between Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who in his previous role as defence minister, developed a personal relationship with Sisi, and say Paris has abandoned its principles for economic and security interests.
French officials dismiss this criticism and say the new administration is following a policy of not openly criticising countries over human rights so as to be more efficient in private and work on a case by case basis.