Jeremy Corbyn has condemned David Cameron’s invitation of the Egyptian president to the UK, saying Abdel Fatah al-Sisi threatens Britain’s national security rather than protecting it.
Downing Street have issued a statement suggesting that president al-Sisi was vital in Britain’s fight against Isis ahead of his visit to the UK.
However the Labour leader contested this, issuing a strongly-worded statement saying his visit “shows contempt for human and democratic rights”.
The Egyptian president has overseen state killings of more than 2,500 political opponents since coming to power last year and has failed thousands of journalists. But despite his record he arrives in London later this evening ahead of talks with Mr Cameron on Thursday.
In a statement issued shortly before Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr 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 dialogue and negotiated conflict resolution in the Middle East is vital to us all. But to welcome and bolster with military support the coup leader who overthrew a democratically elected president in 2013 and has presided over the killing and jailing of many thousands since makes a mockery of government claims to be promoting peace and justice in the region.
“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.”
Amnesty International said president al-Sisi's visit was a test of whether Mr Cameron was serious about human rights. Kate Allen, UK director of Amnesty International, said: “President al-Sisi’s arrival in the UK is key test of whether David Cameron is prepared to do more than roll out red carpets for authoritarian leaders.
“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.
“During the Chinese president’s visit the world got the distinct impression that the UK was sidelining human rights to secure Chinese money for things like powers stations.
“Are we going to see a more principled approach from Mr Cameron when it comes to Mr al-Sisi’s visit?”
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