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UK Prepares to Welcome Another Brutal Dictator

United Kingdom — In spite of human rights organisations’ widespread condemnation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Britain is preparing to show support for his dictatorship by rolling out the red carpet for the coup leader later this week.

Weeks after London hosted one of the world’s largest arms fairs and less than a month after leaked cables revealedBritain’s secret vote trading with Saudi Arabia, more bloodied handshakes are on the horizon as the government prepares to welcome the arrival of al-Sisi.

The age-old pattern of Western governments supporting and rewarding rulers who blatantly trample citizens’ rights has never been more evident than in the case of Egypt’s current president. Former officer and commander-in-chief of Egypt’s armed forces, al-Sisi assumed power in July 2013 after overthrowing the country’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

As Jack Shenker wrote in The Guardian, “In 2011 British prime minister hailed democracy in Tahrir Square. Now he is receiving Abdel Fatah al-Sisi with open arms. What is a man who has overseen the state killings of more than 2,500 political opponents doing at Downing Street?”

The dictator crushed the aspirations of millions of Egyptians who took part in the January 25th revolution, and The El Nadim Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture called Sisi’s first year in power “the worst ever in terms of human rights violations since the organisation’s establishment in 1993.”

Since the military takeover, the dictator has presided over the killing of 2,500 people. Over 40,000 languish behind bars forpolitical reasons. Along with thousands of cases of torture, enforced disappearances, and rape, a report by Human Rights Watch detailed a lack of accountability from security forces over the killings of thousands, as well as mass detentions and hundreds of death sentences.

Since realizing the revolutionary power of the internet, Egypt’s repressive new laws have shrunk the space for free expression. Amid the war on free speech, the government has closed down independent TV channels and expanded media censorship. Journalists are regularly imprisoned while Egyptian state media remains a propaganda mouthpiece.

But by all means, roll out the red carpet, David Cameron.

This is not the first time the British government has welcomed a brutal dictator. Despite the fact that China executed more people than the rest of the world combined in 2014, Britain recently offered Chinese President Xi Jinping the royal treatment in the U.K., even transporting him in the royal carriage to spend three nights under the Queen’s roof.