A priest in Germany has criticised Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday for her “passive” position on the human rights situation in Egypt as she headed to North Africa on a tour to enhance trade and investment ties.
Joachim Schroedel, a German priest who has worked in Egypt for over 20 years, expressed his anger towards Merkel’s assertion that Egyptian Copts’ situation is “very good” in Egypt and her description of Egypt as a stabilising force in the region.
Christians in Egypt have been subject to a series of attacks by extremists, the most recent of which was the bombing of Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral in December that killed 28 people.
Schroedel told widely circulated Bild newspaper: “What does the chancellor want to accomplish with such genuflection?”
Merkel is holding talks with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in Egypt before visiting Tunisia as part of a broader tour to enhance German investments in Africa, decrease the flow of migrants to Europe, and increase intelligence-sharing to combat terrorism.
Such issues gained a new urgency after a Tunisian asylum seeker killed 12 people with a truck in an attack on a Berlin Christmas market in December.
Germany has made strengthening economic development in Africa a priority for its presidency of the G20 group this year.
Merkel, who is campaigning to win a fourth term in office in the September elections needs to take into consideration the public concerns regarding the alleged human rights abuses in Egypt and the region.
Amnesty International has also urged Merkel to pressure Al-Sisi to revoke the restrictions imposed on human rights activists.
Rene Wildangel, an expert on Egyptian affairs, said: “Civil society, media and the political opposition are suffering increasingly under state repression, which often takes place under the pretext of the so-called fight against terrorism.”