Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: Europe cannot 'teach us' about rights

EU leaders avoided publicly criticising Egypt despite an unprecedented crackdown on dissent and spike in executions.

    Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses a press conference at the end of the first EU and Arab League summit [Khaled Desouki/AFP]
    Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses a press conference at the end of the first EU and Arab League summit [Khaled Desouki/AFP]

    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has defended his country's widely criticised human rights record and told European nations not to lecture the Arab world.

    "You are not going to teach us about humanity," said Sisi at a press conference after a European Union-Arab League summit ended on Monday.

    He told reporters in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh that Europeans "have your rules ethic and values. We respect yours. You should respect ours".

    Sisi said Europe is prosperous while many Arab countries struggle simply to prevent conflicts. He was applauded by local media after his remarks.

    EU leaders have avoided publicly criticising Egypt even amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissent and a recent spike in executions.

    Sisi dismissed calls to abolish or at least temporarily suspend capital punishment in Egypt, saying the practice was "in line with the region's laws and culture".

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    "I have listened to a great debate from our European friends," Sisi said.

    "Europe's priority is to achieve and preserve prosperity, but our priority is to preserve our country and prevent it from collapsing, as has happened to several of our neighbours in the region."

    The EU-Arab League Summit opened on Sunday and was attended by numerous European officials, despite the uproar caused by Egypt's recent execution of nine men in connection with the 2015 assassination of Egypt's top prosecutor Hisham Barakat.

    No one claimed responsibility for the killing, but authorities pointed the finger at members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood of overthrown President Mohamed Morsi.

    Since Morsi's overthrow by then army chief Sisi in 2013, Egypt has cracked down on Islamists who backed the country's first democratically elected leader.

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    SOURCE: News agencies