Human rights should not be judged from a Western perspective, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi told former US officials yesterday at a meeting in New York, Ahram Online reported.
In the US to attend the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting, Al-Sisi spoke to American diplomats, former administration officials and military generals about Egypt's alleged commitment to human rights.
"The perception of human rights should not be shorthanded to political rights only, but has to be dealt with through a comprehensive perspective that also includes societal and economic rights, like the right to education, health, housing and work," Al-Sisi argued, according to his spokesman.
When questioned about the conditions of NGOs in Egypt, many of which are heavily restricted by security services, Al-Sisi only said that such bodies are "an important partner on Egypt's path to development", but added that the Egyptian Parliament has approved a law that regulates their work "in light of fear within the society about the work conducted by such organisations in the past years."
The comments come two weeks after Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report which accused Egypt of manufacturing an "assembly line or torture", the extent of which could equate to a "crime against humanity". In response, Egypt blocked the HRW website for 48 hours, and subsequently slammed the report, calling for an investigation into the New York based NGO's funding.
Alaa Abed, head of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, accused HRW of being a suspicious organisation due to its frequents attacks on Egypt and implied that it favoured the banned Muslim Brotherhood party.
Human rights campaigners have long documented Egypt's increasing disregard for human rights and the rule of law since the military coup of 2013 that ousted democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi. There are some 60,000 political prisoners in the country, and the government also persecutes human rights activists and their organisations are subject to severe limitations.