The United States wants Egypt to allow peaceful protests, a US official said Friday, as authoritarian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi clamps down on demonstrations that have proliferated around the country. "The United States supports the right of Egyptians to express their political views freely, the right to associate, the right to peaceful political protest," a senior US official told reporters.
"We call upon the government of Egypt to protect their citizens' ability to exercise these rights freely," he said. The call by the official, who requested anonymity, was at odds with the tone set by President Donald Trump who met Sisi on Monday and said he was "not concerned at all."
"Egypt has a great leader. He's highly respected. He's brought order," Trump said as he met Sisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
"Before he was here, there was very little order. There was chaos. And so I'm not worried about that at all," Trump said in response to a question on the demonstrations.
Rights groups say that security forces have arrested nearly 2,000 people as they try to snuff out a week of protests. The demonstrations came in response to viral videos by exiled businessman Mohamed Aly, who has accused Sisi and the military of corruption.
Trump has built close relations with Sisi, who as military chief toppled elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.