An Italian writer says he felt betrayed by France

ROME

Italian journalist and writer Corrado Augias said he returned his Legion of Honour, France’s highest honour, after it was also presented to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who came to power in 2013 by a Rebellion.

“Actually, it’s due to two incidents that happened simultaneously. The two news; Rome prosecutors revealed that Giulio Regeni had been tortured before the murder and that Macron awarded the Legion of Honor to Egyptian President Sissi, came out almost at the same time. And that made me angry,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Regeni, 28, was an Italian researcher and doctoral student in Egypt, who disappeared on January 25, 2016 – the fifth anniversary of a popular uprising that forced the late President Hosni Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power. Nine days later, the researcher’s naked body was found in a ditch on a Cairo highway.

After years of investigations by Italian prosecutors, despite Cairo’s lack of cooperation, the Rome prosecutor’s office earlier this month called for the trial of four Egyptian officers, including a general.

Days before the trial, French President Emmanuel Macron awarded Sissi the prestigious Legion of Honor medal during a three-day state visit last week.

Egyptian authorities deny any involvement in Regeni’s death.

Augias said that once he made up his mind, he called the editor of La Repubblica, the newspaper he writes for, and shared his intention to return the award to the French Embassy in Italy. He then sent a letter to the newspaper explaining his decision.

“I have lived in Paris for many years. I’m still alive, but not nowadays because of COVID-19.

“My family is originally from Provence, France. Therefore, my ties with France are strong, but my recent act has nothing to do with those ties,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“It’s not up to France or its president Emmanuel Macron. It’s just to show that I don’t agree with this decision by Macron,” he added.

He said Macron’s act of awarding the medal to Sissi felt like being “betrayed by a lover”.

“When I went to return my medal to the ambassador, I reminded him of the visit of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to Rome in 2009. He was welcomed at the Quirinal (presidential palace) with a solemn ceremony. He was invited to dinners , but he was never given a medal,” he added.

The writer said Italy should put more pressure on Egypt to demand justice for its citizen. But he added that cutting all ties with Egypt would not work well.

“If, as some say, Italy cuts all relations with Egypt, the next day we will face a situation where all Italian industry will leave Egypt. Immediately afterwards, German and French industries will take our place. It might not work out very well,” he said.

* written by Iclal Turan in Ankara

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