President Macron says France will do business with Egypt while disagreeing with President el-Sissi’s crackdown on critics

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that France will continue to make economic and defense deals with Egypt, despite Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s heaviest crackdown on dissent in the Arab country’s modern history, the Washington Times reports. While he gave this assurance during the Egyptian leader’s two-day state visit to France, Macron emphasized that he and el-Sissi have “disagreements” on human rights issues.

The Egyptian leader had attended high-level talks with Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, where the two heads of state discussed counter-terrorism and Libya among other regional issues, the Washington Times said. At the same time, Marcon confirmed that he and el-Sissi are not on the same page regarding human rights and that they have discussed this matter “frankly.”

At a joint press conference after the talks, the two leaders publicly expressed their opposing views on religious and human values. In the context of the recent caricatures of Islamic prophet Muhammad, el-Sissi said “it’s very important that when we’re expressing our opinion, that we don’t, for the sake of human values, violate religious values. The rank of religious values is much higher than human values … they are holy and above all other values.” In response, Macron said: “We consider human values are superior to everything else. That’s what was brought by the philosophy of the Enlightenment and the foundation of the universalism of human rights.”

Dismantling the freedoms obtained during the 2011 Arab Spring in Egypt, el-Sissi has imprisoned thousands of Islamists and pro-democracy activists, the Washington Times said. El-Sissi has also silenced critics and severely restricted the operations of human rights groups: on Monday, for instance, an Egyptian court authorized the continued imprisonment of a researcher who had worked for a prominent rights group.

During his meeting with el-Sissi, Macron claimed it is better to fight extremism by working toward greater societal inclusiveness in political decision-making – rather than with “political repression,” the Washington Examiner said. For his part, el-Sissi says his heavy-handedness is needed to fend off the kind of regional wars seen in Syria, Yemen and Libya.

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