By Toqa Ezzidin
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi arrived in London Wednesday for a three-day visit, where he is expected to meet top British officials despite ongoing criticism by local British groups.
Similar to many international visits in countries, where Egypt’s human rights record is criticised by civil society, pro- and anti-Al-Sisi demonstrations are planned to take place in anticipation of the visit.
Egyptian State media reported that Al-Sisi supporters are expected to welcome him and praise his achievements, a practice common in international visits.
On the other hand, the group ‘Stop Sisi’ said that they “are organising a protest later Wednesday at 10 Downing Street alongside various groups and organisations. This is a united effort by British-Egyptians”.
“I think Al-Sisi accepted the invitation to the UK to further promote his plans about restoring ‘stability and security’ in Egypt and to promote the image that he is respected and welcomed by international governments,” a representative from the group told Daily News Egypt.
The presidency said the visit is to strengthen bilateral relations between both countries. Al-Sisi is expected to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron and Defence Minister Michael Fallon to discuss political and military cooperation.
“By hosting Al-Sisi, the UK government is rolling out the red carpet for a dictator. Many British people are absolutely horrified that Al-Sisi has been invited to the UK despite his abysmal human rights track record. Inviting Al-Sisi to the UK contradicts the British values we pride ourselves on,” the Stop Sisi group said.
Since the official announcement of the November visit, critics mobilised against the talks and called upon the British government to “withdraw” its invitation. Among the group is Stop Sisi, which “aims to highlight and raise awareness about the human rights abuses committed by Al-Sisi and his government against the Egyptian civilian population”.
“Al-Sisi’s visit to the UK is rather important now and considered to be a major political achievement because the Muslim Brotherhood group was trying to imply that Al-Sisi and other officials will be arrested once they visit UK, which is not true,” political scientist Hassan Nafaa said.
“The objectives of the visit is not really as important as the message delivered from the visit, to prove to the Muslim Brotherhood and other skeptics that Al-Sisi is not concerned about visiting the UK and that his hands are clear from the crimes they try to fabricate,” he said.
“The protests that are going to be held Wednesday with the arrival of Al-Sisi are pretty normal and this is the case in any democratic country. However, the case of the UK is different because it has a lot of Muslim Brotherhood members, who were ‘expelled’ from Egypt, to show that the UK does not approve of Al-Sisi’s regime, which is not true,” he said regarding the effectiveness of the – protests.
Additional reporting by Adham Youssef.