French President Francois Hollande
French President Francois HollandeReuters

French President Francois Hollande on Sunday called for human rights to be respected in the fight against "terrorism" in Egypt.

The comments came after Hollande’s meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, reported the AFP news agency.

Hollande arrived in Cairo earlier for a two-day visit to oversee the signing of several economic agreements, but a press conference with Sisi was dominated by the Egyptian leader's human rights record.

Sisi said the French president had brought up the issue during their meeting.

"The region we live in, President Hollande, is very turbulent," said Sisi, according to AFP.

When it was his turn to speak, Hollande said respecting human rights was not an obstacle to fighting jihadists, who have carried out large scale attacks in both France and Egypt.

"Human rights are not a constraint but also a way to fight against terrorism," he added.

Egypt has been criticized for its human rights record in recent years due to its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which was blacklisted as a terrorist organization in Egypt after the army, led by Sisi, ousted former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

As part of the crackdown, members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been placed on mass trials and sentenced to death. The mass trials have been condemned by foreign governments and human rights groups.

On the eve of Hollande's visit, rights groups including Amnesty International had criticized what they called France's "deafening silence" on allegations of abuses in Egypt, noted AFP.

On the economic front, the two leaders oversaw the signing of 18 memorandums of understanding between Egypt and France, and a 1.2 billion euro agreement to expand the metro line in Cairo.

The deals included financing for a wind farm and a solar power plant.