In the wake of last week’s state executions in Egypt, a wave of criticism by the British press took aim at the choice of the country to host an EU-Arab League Summit.
“Days after Egypt executed men who said they were tortured into confessions of killing the country’s former top prosecutor, Europe’s heads of state are enjoying the hospitality of its president,” Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, said an editorial by The Guardian.
The paper said the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh is hosting the “inaugural summit of the European Union and the Arab League” and “if the event itself is a first, the approach is familiar.”
What is familiar is a policy to internationally legitimize a leadership which came to power through a military coup, the daily suggested.
The piece said: “As Mr Sisi entrenches his rule, presiding over what Human Rights Watch calls Egypt’s worst human rights crisis in decades, European countries murmur about their ‘quiet diplomacy’ on such issues.
“Then they carry on building ties and providing the air of international legitimacy that he needs given his grim record since seizing power in 2013’s coup.
“Mr Sisi’s recent spate of executions is instructive: he must have felt confident there would be no repercussions for putting people to death so close to the summit – despite their blatantly unfair trials.”
Nine young people were executed last week after being convicted of the 2015 assassination of Hisham Barakat, Egypt’s prosecutor general.
Also criticizing the choice of Egypt as host, The Financial Times said in a weekend article that the summit “opens amid concern that Brussels is legitimising authoritarian regimes for political ends.”
“For the EU, the timing could hardly have been worse,” it said.
“Egypt’s parliament this month backed a proposal to extend President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s increasingly authoritarian rule until as far as 2034, a power grab that has shaken the country.”
The paper criticized the EU for cooperating with authoritarian rulers such as al-Sisi.
“The bloc’s chronic problems and internal feuds, notably over migration, have led to a small revolution in its willingness to co-operate with authoritarian rulers such as Mr Sisi, even when that lays it open to charges of hypocrisy and lending these regimes legitimacy,” it said.
The nine men hanged last week were among 28 people sentenced to death in 2017 for their alleged roles in Barakat's murder.
Earlier this month, Egyptian authorities executed six people in two different cases for killing the son of a judge and a senior police officer.
Egypt was roiled by turmoil when the military deposed Mohamed Morsi, the country's first freely elected president, in a 2013 coup.
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