Egypt slams McCain criticism of el-Sissi's 'backwards' Egypt

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Egypt slams McCain criticism of el-Sissi's 'backwards' Egypt
A billboard supporting Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in the presidential election scheduled for March hangs in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. El-Sissi is virtually guaranteed to win a second four-year term amid a heavy clampdown on dissent. Arabic reads, "So you can build it." (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has expressed its “absolute rejection” of a statement by U.S. Sen. John McCain criticizing the country’s crackdown on human rights and democracy under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Thursday’s statement came on the seventh anniversary of the Jan. 25, 2011 popular uprising that toppled Egypt’s longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, ushering in years of instability punctuated by military and Islamist rule, and el-Sissi’s rise to power.

The ministry says McCain’s remarks “included unfounded accusations, fallacies, and misinformation,” and “flimsy claims.”

McCain’s comments a day earlier say that “over the past few years, we have witnessed Egypt lurch dangerously backwards. President el-Sissi’s unprecedented crackdown on political activism and fundamental human rights has led to the imprisonment of tens of thousands of dissidents, including 19 American citizens and nearly 3,500 young people.”