Sisi hails ‘unprecedented freedom of expression’ in Egypt

Published September 29th, 2015 - 11:56 GMT
Sisi made the comments to CNN ahead of his speech to the UN General Assembly in New York. (AFP/File)
Sisi made the comments to CNN ahead of his speech to the UN General Assembly in New York. (AFP/File)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said on Monday that Egypt enjoys unprecedented freedom of expression and that no one in Egypt was prosecuted for expressing his views during his presidency.

"I do not want to exaggerate, but we have unprecedented freedom of expression in Egypt. No one in Egypt can bar anyone working in media or journalism or on TV from expressing their views," said al-Sisi in an interview on CNN with veteran American TV host Wolf Blitzer when asked about freedom of expression and journalism in the country.

In addition to freedom of expression in Egypt, the interview tackled several other issues, including Egypt's position towards Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the Iranian nuclear deal, Egypt-US relations, as well as the war on terrorism. 

"I am afraid that if President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian Arab army fall, the radical groups will be given a huge push," said al-Sisi when asked about al-Assad. He added that the situation between al-Assad and the Syrian opposition can be dealt with. 

Regarding the Iranian nuclear deal, the Egyptian president welcomed any initiative or procedure that would push back tension and the "ghosts of war" in the already troubled Middle East.

"Nevertheless, this deal should not be at the expense of Arab national security," Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said, denying that Egypt was joining a nuclear race alongside Saudi Arabia and the UAE against Iran. "Egypt does not think in that way," he added. 

President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi added that Egypt's relations with the United States go beyond the military aid Egypt receives from the US.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the military aid Egypt was receiving to fight terrorism, al-Sisi said that Egypt needed more equipment as "the weapons used in counter-terrorism" were different than those used in usual combat.

Regarding the threat of the ISIS (Daesh) group to Egypt, the Egyptian president said that Egypt was making a lot of efforts to combat terrorism, not only with security solutions, but also with the reform of religious discourse.

"It will take several years," said al-Sisi about the religious discourse reform.

The future of the Arab joint forces was brought in to the interview when Blitzer asked about its fate. 

"Already we [The Arab countries] are participating in the international alliance against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but in this stage Egypt is fighting terrorism in its territories," said al-Sisi.

The Egyptian president is currently in New York in the United States, participating in the UN General Assembly.

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