“Things haven’t gone in the right direction since 2017 – bloggers, journalists are in prison and because of that Egypt’s image can find itself suffering,” he told a joint press conference with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
He added: “Stability and durable peace go together with respect for individual dignity and the rule of law, and the search for stability cannot be dissociated from the question of human rights.”
Rights groups and activists have repeatedly called on France which considers itself the birthplace of human rights, to raise the matter with Egypt’s president.
After Mr Sisi led a military coup to oust his predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013, rights organisations have claimed that Egyptian security forces have arrested thousands of people, including many of those behind the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The country has also been accused of arbitrary detention, disappearances and torture, and silencing most independent media.
Mr Macron said said he felt the current crackdown had become worse than those led by Mr Mubarak.
“I think that the policies as they are being done are perceived by intellectuals, the Egyptian civil society, as being even stronger than [under] the Mubarak regime,” he said.
Firing back, Mr Sisi told reporters that rights should be taken in the context of regional turbulence and the fight against terrorism.
“Egypt does not advance through bloggers,” he said. “It advances through the work, effort and perseverance of its sons.”
Mr Macron dismissed suggestions that French weapons in Egypt were being used against civilians, saying they had only been used for military purposes.
He also said no potential new military contracts were talked about during the meeting with Mr Sisi beyond a possible deal for 12 fighter jets.
Officials signed a series of economic and development deals including French support for social policies and female entrepreneurship and a memorandum of understanding for the expansion of Cairo’s metro.
Agencies contributed to this report
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