Video: Protesters demonstrate against UK 'legitimisation' of Sisi

Video: Protesters demonstrate against UK 'legitimisation' of Sisi
Watch: 'Not welcome' - protesters outside 10 Downing Street demonstrate against Egyptian President Sisi's visit to the UK, which many said legitimises human rights abuses in Egypt.
3 min read
05 November, 2015
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Number 10 Downing Street on Wednesday night to protest against the visit of Egyptian President Sisi to the UK.

There were five arrests made for obstruction as protests continued into Thursday morning, the Metropolitan Police told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Sisi has been accused of complicity in multiple human rights abuses in Egypt since he came to power in a military coup in 2013.
     The British government is giving him this legitimacy to keep killing and torturing our friends

A campaign to stop his visit has been raging for the past several weeks. 

Protesters held signs reading: "Stop the repression in Egypt" and "Sisi not welcome".

"I'm here to protest [against] the dictator who has come to the UK," one activist told al-Araby. "We're here, standing in solidarity with Egyptian people who came out in 2011 and wanted democracy - and then it was overthrown.

"[Prime Minister David] Cameron is aware of this, he's aware of all the atrocities in Egypt. It's against British values and everything we stand for."

Walaa, another protester, told al-Araby: "I think that after any dictator commits a mass atrocity like Sisi has - he committed the largest mass atrocity in modern Egyptian history - they seek out the international community for legitimacy, and I think the British government is giving him this legitimacy to keep killing and torturing our friends."

Chris Nineham from the Stop the War Coalition told the approximately 200-strong crowd: "We are here tonight to stand up against the visit of the dictator al-Sisi, the man who crushed Egyptian democracy."

A protester named Mohammed referred to Sisi's perceived declining popularity at home:

"I don't want Sisi to come to the UK because he's killing Egyptians," he told al-Araby. "Ssi is looking for more friends from other governments."

Yet another protester questioned the democratic credentials of the president, who was officially "elected" with 96 percent of the vote a year after the coup that brought the military leader to power.

"I'm against Sisi coming to the UK because he toppled an elected president with military might and power and killing a lot of people in the process," he told al-Araby. "When the Chinese president came, there were many questions over his human rights record - I think the same questions should be raised here."

Sisi supporters also gathered on Thursday morning [Getty]

Fatima Said has been campaigning against the visit at her university.

"Sisi is a military dictator who has been shamefully invited by the British government," she said.

"This visit symbolises the legitimisation of him… What it shows is that we're giving a blank check to the dictator, despite him making so many human rights abuses against students, against women, against children. [There are] 41,000 political detainees in Egypt today, and yet we're inviting the person responsible for detaining them."

The protest was called by a variety of political groups, including the Stop The War Coalition.

There were minor scuffles within the protest between those who supported the deposed President Morsi, and those who were opposed to both Sisi and Morsi.

However, the chant of "down with the military" seemed to unifying the crowd.

Following the demonstration outside the prime minister's office, a number of protesters went to a hotel in Knightsbridge at which Sisi was rumoured to be staying.

Some protesters had even been following Sisi around Europe, including his trip to Berlin.

Despite the absence of an organised counter-demonstration on Wednesday night, a small group of Sisi supporters gathered on the opposite side of the road from the main protest.

"We support Sisi, long live Egypt," shouted a group of five young women.

A further pro-Sisi rally has been scheduled for Thursday.