Germany urges Sisi not to carry out Egypt death penalties
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged the Egyptian president not to execute Muslim Brotherhood leaders. (AFP/File)
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi not to carry out death penalties imposed on Muslim Brotherhood leaders and opposition members in Egypt.
“We have discussed the topic of death sentences. The high number of death sentences…from our point of view, this is something that one should prevent. Germany opposes the death penalty,” Merkel said at a joint press conference in Berlin on Wednesday following her talks with el-Sisi.
The Egyptian president, however, did not signal any change in his regime’s policy, but instead asked the German side to respect Egypt’s position.
“On the death sentences…you have your own perspective that we are respecting. And you should also show respect to our perspective,” he said.
He said that death sentences were given by an Egyptian first instance court and judicial procedures were still ongoing.
“Let us wait for the end of the judicial procedures, let us see what comes then,” el-Sisi added.
Merkel underlined differences with Egyptian leadership on the issues of death penalty and freedoms, but refrained from a strong criticism of human rights abuses during the press conference.
She highlighted the importance of Egypt in the fight against terrorism and stability in the region, and expressed willingness to continue cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and regional security.
“For me, relations with Egypt have a highly strategic importance,” Merkel said, adding that Egypt could play an important role in the Middle East peace process and for stability in Africa.
She asked the Egyptian leadership to take steps towards ensuring religious freedoms for all minorities in Egypt and also lift restrictions on German political foundations, including Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, in the country.
El-Sisi defended the military intervention in Egypt and claimed that it saved the country from “religious fascism”, which he said would have turned the country into Syria, Libya and Yemen.
“We have long discussed democracy. We Egyptians are also for democracy and freedoms. We share democratic principles and values. But we are going through a difficult period,” he said.
Egyptian journalists from the pro-regime media outlets applauded remarks of el-Sisi during the joint press conference, which came as a surprise to Merkel and other journalists in the room.
Student protests el-Sisi visit
At the end of the joint press conference, a 22-year old female Egyptian student and journalist assistant, Fagr Eladly, shouted at el-Sisi, saying: “He is a murderer,” and “We have to put down the military coup.”
However, some Egyptian journalists from el-Sisi’s official delegation intervened and chanted slogans in support of him: “Long Live el-Sisi,” and “Long Live Egypt.”
Later, Eladly told Anadolu Agency that she wanted to ask a question during the press conference, but was not allowed.
“We stand by people who are oppressed in Egypt. Because we want justice and freedom. We want people to be treated as humans,” she said.
She also criticized Merkel’s meeting with el-Sisi.
“It is not actually morally justified to support el-Sisi. Because he is not a democratic leader. He has actually denied rule of law and he has destroyed democracy in Egypt,” she added.
Earlier, Egyptian dissident groups protested el-Sisi's visit in front of the German parliament Wednesday.
The Egyptian president is on a two-day official visit to Berlin at the invitation of Merkel. His visit drew widespread criticism among politicians and intellectuals in Germany because of his human rights violations in Egypt.
German Parliament President Norbert Lammert turned down a meeting with el-Sisi, criticizing undemocratic practices, human rights violations and death sentences on Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi and more than 100 of his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
Leading international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, had urged Merkel Monday to raise human rights violations with el-Sisi and demand release of all prisoners detained in what they deem to be politically motivated trials.
The groups said that at least 41,000 people were detained between July 2013 and May last year in Egypt. Amnesty said more than 742 death sentences have been passed against alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters since Morsi was overthrown.
Egypt’s first democratically elected President Morsi was ousted in mid-2013 by the Egyptian army, which was headed at the time by el-Sisi.
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