France asks Egypt to respect freedom of expression
France called Thursday for the Egyptian authorities to respect citizens' freedom of expression as security forces violently clamp down on mass protests around the country.
"We expect the authorities and public powers concerned to respect public liberties, notably the freedom of expression," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told journalists.
"We are also attentive as to the treatment and fate of the hundreds of people arrested following the demonstrations of recent days," he said.
Pro-democracy activists have vowed to step up the largest anti-government protests in Egypt in three decades, despite mass arrests and mammoth security following two days of street clashes.
According to a security official, at least 1,000 people have been detained around the country since the demonstrations started on Tuesday.
Medics have reported the deaths of six people -- four protesters and two policemen -- in violence linked to the protests, with 55 protesters and 15 police injured.
"It is not up to France to intervene in Egyptian internal affairs," Valero said when asked about Egyptian security forces' use of force against protestors.
"But we remain attentive, along with our partners, as to the respect of individual and public liberties. This is an important part of dialogue and cooperation between the European Union and Egypt," he said.
© 2011 AFP