June 8, 2015 / 3:09 PM / 2 years ago

Rights group says Egypt's Sisi gets wide Western support despite rights abuses

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel following talks at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 3, 2015.Fabrizio Bensch

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's one-year tenure in office has witnessed human rights abuses and an escalation in violence by armed groups and the government, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

The New York-based rights group called on Western governments to stop overlooking government abuses that it said included mass detentions, military trials for civilians and mass death sentences.

"The al-Sisi government is acting as though to restore stability Egypt needs a dose of repression the likes of which it hasn't seen for decades, but its treatment is killing the patient," Joe Stork, HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said in a statement.

"What makes it worse is that Western governments that subordinated human rights in their relations with Egypt during the Mubarak era seem ready to repeat their mistake."

Spokesmen for the interior and foreign ministries were not immediately available for comment. An official in the president's office declined to comment.

Sisi was elected president after ousting the country's first freely elected leader, Mohamed Mursi, in 2013 after mass protests.

Since then, militants have escalated attacks against soldiers and police, killing hundreds. The most active group, Sinai Province, pledged allegiance to Islamic State and wants to topple the Cairo government.

Egypt says the now-banned Brotherhood is a threat to national security. It makes no distinction between the militants and the Brotherhood, which denies ties to violence.

Secular activists have also been jailed for violating a law curbing demonstrations. Authorities deny allegations of abuse.

Regardless of criticism, many Egyptians support Sisi for delivering a degree of stability after years of turmoil following the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin; Writing by Yara Bayoumy Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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