Norbert Lammert, the speaker of the German parliament, has announced that he is cancelling a planned meeting with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, during the Egyptian president’s scheduled visit to Berlin next month, due to human rights violations in Egypt.
Lammert’s office said in a written statement on Tuesday that the speaker had told the Egyptian embassy in Berlin about his decision not to hold the meeting.
“Despite expectations from Egypt to schedule a date for the long-awaited parliamentary elections, what we are witnessing in recent months is systematic persecution of opposition groups, mass arrests, convictions to lengthy prison terms and an incredible number of death sentences, which include former parliament speaker al-Katatni,” the statement said.
“Given this situation, which contributes neither to domestic peace nor to the democratization of the country, Lammert sees for the time being no ground for a meeting with President el-Sisi.”
Following the announcement, Mohamed Hegazy, Egypt’s ambassador to Germany, told the publication Al-Masry Al-Youm that the Egyptian government had neither “requested” or was “looking forward to meeting with the head of the German Parliament.”
“The meeting was added to the trip’s itinerary by the German side,” Hegazy told the privately owned newspaper.
Lammert’s announcement appeared to have been triggered by an Egyptian court’s decision on Saturday to sentence former president Mohamed Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood figures to death.
Last year, hundreds of Egyptians were sentenced to death but only a few dozen executions were upheld.