Why is the Egyptian Dictator Abdelfattah el-Sisi visiting Berlin?

Germany is courting a murderous régime. This is an insult to the many political prisoners in Egypt’s jails


Russian President Vladimir Putin fears the “spark of democracy” spreading to his country”
Olaf Scholz, 2022

What unites us is our shared values: democracy, human rights, peace and freedom.”
Olaf Scholz, 2022

We must protect our democracy from populists and stand up for the rights of minorities”,
Olaf Scholz, 2019

In spite of those shiny statements made by the German chancellor against dictators and populists, on 18th July 2022, he warmly met with the strongman of Egypt. Mr. Abdelfattah el-Sisi, who led the 2013 coup that toppled the first ever democratically-elected government in Egyptian history, who killed democracy in his country – and probably the entire region — is being given red carpet treatment in the German capital.

Mr. Sisi is also notorious for spearing the worst massacre in Egypt’s modern history, when his forces stormed Rabaa & Nahda sit-ins, reportedly murdering 1,200 – 2,000 protesters in broad daylight in Cairo, some of whom were burned alive while in their tents.

In 2015 Mr. Sisi’s visit was met with negativity from some parts of the German democracy. Although then-Chancellor Merkel received Sisi warmly, Norbert Lammert, at the time the President of the Bundestag, refused to meet him due to his human rights record.

Between 2015 and now the situation definitely hasn’t gotten any better. Under his reign 16 prisons were built to accommodate the reported 60,000 – 70,000 political prisoners held in inhumane conditions, many of whom are tortured and convicted without fair trail — and most without any trial at all. Egypt ranked third in the world for executions carried out in 2021, directly below China & Iran. Human rights groups have documented 1,163 deaths inside detention centres in Egypt since 2013.

The visit in 2022 is of more importance than the one in 2015, as Mr. Sisi could potentially be a solution to German fears of gas cuts from Russia — and Scholz doesn’t only have his sights on gas from Egypt, but also hydrogen.

Germany, whose weapon sales to Egypt hit an all time record in 2021, has a lot of leverage over the Egyptian regime. In addition to this, German companies are carrying out mega-infrastructure projects in Egypt, and to top all that off, Germany is a potential buyer of fuel from Egypt. It’s about time that Germany uses this leverage for the interest of not just the Egyptian people, but also for the interest of the stability of the region on the doorstep of Europe.

Outside the doors where Scholz met Sisi stood Sanaa Seif, whose imprisoned brother is on a 108-days hunger strike. While international outcry to release him wasn’t strong enough to secure his freedom, Sanaa reminded Mr. Scholz and the world that Sisi is acting this way because no one stands up against him. The German and western governments are openly supporting a dictator that the Egyptians haven’t chosen and should better use their leverage to promote human rights.

We want to remind the German government that stopping the fuel supply from one dictator and replacing it with fuel from another dictator is merely a ticking time bomb, especially when the dictator in question blackmails Europe by using the plight of refugees as a leverage in order to enforce border regimes if he doesn’t receive financial support.

We demand that the German government suspend all arms sales to Egypt and undertake a human rights review. We demand that the German government exert all efforts to pressure the Egyptian dictator to respect human rights and fix the political system in Egypt.

The Egyptian initiative for personal rights has issued a list of 7 demands, including freeing all prisoners, stopping the execution sentences and lifting the states of emergency. You can read more about the initiative here.


Gallery – protests against El-Sisi in Berlin, 18th July 2022

Photos: Hossam El-Hamalawy and Amr S