Question for David Cameron: What should Egyptian democracy look like?

Does it look like President Sisi?


Today David Cameron will meet with the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to discuss their common interests, including the war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State.

To critics, the visit is the latest example of Downing Street extending its hand to a repressive government in the name of self-interested diplomacy, as seen with the Chinese President’s October visit and the UK’s ongoing friendship with Saudi Arabia.

President Sisi will no doubt be pleased by news today that David Cameron is to announce new curbs on the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Sisi seized power in 2013. Ousted President Mohamed Morsi has been sentenced to death.

David Cameron was the first Western leader to visit Tahrir Square in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution that ended the rule of Egypt’s military leader Hosni Mubarak and led to the election of Morsi. He said at the time that he had gone there to ‘support the aspirations of people in Egypt for a more genuine, open democracy’.

If he stands by any part of this statement, David Cameron should have serious questions for the current Egyptian leader, and for himself.

Is a ‘genuine, open democracy’ a country where tens of thousands of people are in detention after a sweeping crackdown on dissent? SInce Sisi came to power journalists, human rights activists, students, and real and alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been detained, with hundreds sentenced to death. Amnesty International has criticised ‘grossly unfair’ trials riddled with due process violations, including some which took place without the defendants and their lawyers. At least 124 people have died in detention.

Does a ‘genuine, open democacy’ rush through a series of laws to crush opposition and expediate death sentences? Legislation enacted by Sisi and Adly Mansour, an interim President installed by Sisi after Morsi’s removal, includes an extension of military jurisdiction, the Protest Law, which gives security forces sweeping powers to disperse demonstrations not approved by the authorities, the Counter-terrorism Law, which gives the president emergency-style powers and erodes fair trial guarantees, and a clampdown on foreign funding used to prosecute human rights groups.

In a ‘genuine, open democracy’ do security forces have impunity for massacre? In August 2013 thousands of people gathered in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square to protest the coup which had taken place weeks before. They were mainly Morsi supporters. Military forces began shooting on the morning of 14 August, killing anywhere between 600 and 1,000 protesters (estimates vary – Human Rights Watch puts the figure at 817). In the two years since that day, not a single security officer has been held accountable for their role in the killings.

In a genuine, open democracy, can you be arrested for the slogan on your T-shirt? Can a disabled woman be snatched by security forces, denied access to a lawyer, and denied medical treatment for an injury obtained at a protest that left her wheelchair-bound?

David Cameron should decide what he thinks about all these definitions of democracy as he speaks with the Egyptian President today. These questions should be at the centre of every arms negotiation, every proposal for Syria and LIbya. Otherwise, the UK legitimises – and through arms, is even complicit in – the ongoing repression of the Egyptian people by President Sisi.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

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12 Responses to “Question for David Cameron: What should Egyptian democracy look like?”

  1. Nick

    in my lifetime i have been a regular visitor to Egypt and have always found the people first class across the board with great attention to detail

    i have also found their military police to be one of genuine concern for tourists

    However like we all know they have struggled to get through the first hurdle of good government which is how the outside world sees you and not how you see yourself

    Both President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and david cameron need to learn the lessons in that you must put your people first and not yourselves

    you need to be seen both here and in Egypt to be putting a strong emphasis on good housing and good safe working practices and in general getting the very basics right as they are very simple

    my last meeting a few years ago with the Egyptian ambassador looked to me after a good evening as i was rabbiting on about all the houses with no roof on and said (i suppose you wont to run the place then) to which i replied i couldn’t do a worse job at present no matter how hard i tried

    luckily for me he laughed and said it’s a pity you don’t live here and in his own way he meant it

    sure things are not that great their with many outside influences trying to pitch in to make things better but in reality that’s not how you run a country

    Egypt needs to spend more time on getting the very basic right like housing /education/ health and cost effective tourism and not like as of today with slave labour still ruling the roost

    by very getting the basics right of running the country you will intern find that your fellow neighbors /countries will be inspired by you and will wont to follow you

    all countries need inspiring leaders and more so in north Africa and the middle east but few will ever get to the state of what i would call ideal as even in the uk our government is found wounting in so many areas so its hardly surprising that Egypt struggles

  2. Mann T.

    Question for President Sisi – What should British democracy look like? Should it look like a monarchy with an unelected upper house married into and connected with a plutocratic oligarchy?



    It is either the Muslim Brotherhood fanatics with women wearing the burkha or Sisi and some freedom. And it would be all out war with Israel if the Brotherhood take over. Egypt would lose. It is not rocket science.

  4. ray vison

    Yes, much better to have an Israeli stooge in control, Who cares about thousands of deaths and imprisonments.


    Sisi is secretly a Jew, is that what you are saying. Israel planted him in Egypt then. His nose is slightly hooky. The Brotherhood do not bother about killing anyone that disagrees with their fascist beliefs. So what is your point.

  6. CGR

    Well in a choice between islamofascism and Sisi, Sisi is cleary the least worst alternative.

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  8. tzatz

    My sentiments exactly … It’s MUCH better to have Sisi in control … eh?

    There would be tens of thousands of dead Egyptians if Egypt went to war with Israel … it would be painful to watch … eh?

  9. tzatz

    It’s ray being a Judeophobe … everything ‘bad’ must be Jews involved … eh?

  10. tzatz

    I agree … democracy is the worst form of government EXCEPT except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.… … eh?

  11. tzatz

    • 40% of the economic activity is held in the hands of the Military

    • 50% of the People are Illiterate without 21st C job skills
    • 50% of the People are under 24 without the ability to marry
    • 50% of the People are DISCRIMINATED including women and Coptic Christians
    • Egypt can’t feed itself … Saudi Arabia is bailing out Egypt currently … how long can that last to the tune of $12.5 US$


    Do not start this phobe phenomena!

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