The French ambassador in Cairo, André Parant, said that about 30 contracts are ready to be signed between France and Egypt during the Cairo leg of President François Hollande’s Middle East and North Africa tour this weekend that also stops in Lebanon and Jordan. Hollande arrives in Egypt accompanied by 60 businessmen, with the aim to establish a “strategic partnership” with the regime. In the French view, Egypt is a strategic partner not only for the economy, but also for regional security.
The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), Human Rights Watch and EuroMed Droits, however, have launched an appeal to the president that he might consider the question of human rights at a time when 380 human rights defenders risk prison terms of 25 years to life.
The NGOs, which were received by Hollande’s diplomatic adviser on Tuesday, reminded the government of the fate of a Frenchman, Eric Lang, a 49-year-old teacher who was arrested in Cairo for not carrying his passport with him and died in police custody in 2013, beaten to death. The official version from the Egyptian dictatorship is that Lang was beaten to death by fellow inmates, but his family doesn’t believe it. The French Foreign Ministry insists it has “moved to clarify,” but the case has been practically forgotten in France.