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Hundreds Protest Against Egyptian President's Visit To Downing Street

Five people were arrested for staging a "die-in" to protest Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's meeting with David Cameron.

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Updated on

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Downing Street Thursday to protest David Cameron's invitation to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Seven people were arrested during Thursday's demonstration, including two people for assault. Five others were arrested after holding a "die-in" to block the Egyptian president from entering No. 10, Metropolitan police told BuzzFeed News.

All seven are still being held by police officers, BuzzFeed News has been told.

Sisi arrived in London on Wednesday night and met Thursday with Cameron and senior members of the cabinet. He is also expected to meet defence secretary Michael Fallon later today to discuss issues surrounding regional security and counterterrorism.

At a press conference held in Downing Street on Thursday afternoon, both Sisi and Cameron stated that security services were doing all they could to ensure the security of tourists in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh.

Cameron also said that the UK and Egypt would work together in ensuring the safety of British tourists.

"We are working intensively together in the spirit of close cooperation and I'm immensely grateful for all the efforts the Egyptian authorities have made so far," Cameron said.

Sisi claimed that the British government had been satisfied with Egyptian airport security when it requested information 10 months ago, but asserted that Egypt was "completely ready to co-operate with all of our friends" to strengthen security.

Sisi's Downing Street invitation has been highly criticised by activists who accuse the British government of ignoring human rights concerns regarding the Egyptian regime, in particular the death of over 800 people at the hands of Egyptian military forces in Ra'baa in 2013.

On Wednesday night, a number of Egyptian activists addressed a crowd of protesters. Among those who spoke were the sisters of Ibrahim Halawa, a 19-year-old Irish man who has been held in an Egyptian prison since 2013 for participating in the Ra'baa protests against the regime.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have urged the British government to confront Sisi on human rights issues.

"David Cameron needs to show that he's got what it takes to stand up to repressive leaders not just give them a handshake and a grand tour of No. 10," Amnesty International's Egypt researcher, Nicholas Piachaud, told the IB Times. "That means raising serious human rights concerns including the repressive laws which are putting peaceful protesters behind bars."

David Mepham, UK director at Human Rights Watch, said the British government should show its "support for an international inquiry into grave crimes committed by the Egyptian security forces" and call for the release of prisoners arrested "solely for peaceful protest or their political or religious sympathies".

Hussein Kesvani is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Hussein Kesvani at Hussein.Kesvani@BuzzFeed.com.

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