Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says Sisi's UK visit 'threatens national security'

Published 04.11.2015 19:13
Updated 05.11.2015 16:21
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party addresses the Scottish Labour Party conference in Perth, Scotland October 30, 2015. (REUTERS Photo)
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party addresses the Scottish Labour Party conference in Perth, Scotland October 30, 2015. (REUTERS Photo)

Britain's opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has condemned Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's London visit as a threat to U.K. national security.

Labour Party leader Corbyn said that the three-day visit, which begins on Wednesday, made a "mockery" of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron's claims to be promoting peace and justice in the Middle East.

In a written statement issued on Wednesday morning, Corbyn said: "David Cameron's invitation to Britain today of the Egyptian president and coup leader Abdel Fatah al-Sisi shows contempt for human and democratic rights and threatens, rather than protects, Britain's national security.

"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."
Meanwhile, differen organizations publicy urged Cameron to withdraw intivation to Sisi or raise Egyptian human rights concerns during his visit.

Hours before Corbyn's statement, Human rights body Amnesty International said that the Egyptian leader had overseen a sweeping crackdown on dissent since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, the country's first freely-elected president, in July 2013.

Amnesty's U.K. director Kate Allen said: "We want to see David Cameron personally raising human rights issues in talks with President al-Sisi.

"There have been horrifying mass death sentences since President al-Sisi came to power - some after grossly unfair trials - and thousands have been detained in an attempt to quash all opposition. Almost no-one's escaped attention in al-Sisi's crackdown, with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, peaceful protesters and journalists all now languishing in jail."

David Mepham, the U.K. director of activist group Human Rights Watch, added: "The very least David Cameron should do during al-Sisi's visit is support an international inquiry into the grave crimes committed by the Egyptian security forces.

"He should also call publicly for the immediate release of all those unfairly jailed, and urge Egypt to end its abusive counter-terrorism policies in Sinai and elsewhere, which are fuelling, not containing, extremism."
British politicians, activists and academics have also urged the U.K. to withdraw its invitation for Egypt's president to visit the country.

The 55 signatories to an open letter published in Tuesday morning's Guardian newspaper said that welcoming Egypt's controversial President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi "violates the British values which the government claims to champion".

El-Sisi became Egypt's president in a contentious election a year after the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the country's first elected president, in 2013.

The letter is signed by senior British opposition politicians John McDonnell and Diane Abbott as well Dr. Daud Abdullah from the British Muslim Initiative and the Egyptian Revolutionary Council's head, Dr. Maha Azzam.

Morsi was deposed by the Egyptian military after a year in power, following mass protests against his rule.

Since then, the Egyptian authorities have cracked down on dissent through operations that have mainly targeted the ousted president's supporters and members of his Muslim Brotherhood group.

The U.K. government said that it needed to work with Egypt to combat terrorism and extremism and described the visit as an "opportunity to hold open and frank dialogue".

Sisi's visit is expected to be met with protests, beginning with a demonstration organized by Egyptian opposition groups outside the U.K. prime minister's central London offices on Wednesday evening.

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