President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi basked in the glow of a François Hollande, babbling empty words in defense of human rights. The press conference Sunday evening put on by the former Egyptian general and the French president offered a vivid image of Cairo’s standing among Western leaders, despite the climate of repression that has stifled the revolutionary spirit of Tahrir. Europe is prostrate at the feet of the coup leader.
The specters of the murdered Italian grad student Giulio Regeni and the teacher Eric Lang, a Frenchman killed in Egyptian custody, hovered over Hollande and el-Sisi. But they were too dim to question the moral legitimacy of the French visit: that is, economic agreements for €1.7 billion and memoranda of understanding for future cooperation, in addition to a billion more for weapons and military satellite systems.
“We face evil forces in the region,” el-Sisi said. “They do everything they can to severely shake the stability of Egypt. They are trying to give a wrong impression of the events in Egypt. What transpires is an attempt to destroy the institutions of the state, one at a time. There is an ongoing attack on the police, then against the judicial system. Even the parliament, elected in a transparent manner by the people, is questioned.”