On Sunday night, CBS News will air an interview with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on 60 Minutes — and the Egyptian government is not pleased. According to the Huffington Post, Egyptian officials reached out to the network and demanded that the interview never see the light of day.
In an official statement by CBS, the network confirmed that the Egyptian ambassador had contacted them regarding airing the controversial interview, which touches on numerous hot-button political issues. They did not elaborate on the conversation, but did emphasize that despite these warnings, the episode would air Sunday night as planned.
The exclusive interview, hosted by Scott Pelley, covered quite a few of the current political and military issues plaguing Egypt — and obviously a few of those topics hit a sore spot with the government. At one point, Sissi was asked if the Egyptian military was collaborating with Israel in the Sinai peninsula on armed operations.
“That is correct …We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis,” Sissi said during the interview. Egypt is currently embroiled in battle with about 1,000 ISIS-affiliated terrorists; in order to combat them, they are working with the Israelis to launch air attacks.
The Egyptian President went on to deny that his country is holding any political prisoners. This is in direct conflict with a report from the Human Rights Watch, which says that as many as 60,000 political prisoners could be held in Egypt at this time.
“I don’t know where they got that figure,” President Sissi told Pelley. I said there are no political prisoners in Egypt. Whenever there is a minority trying to impose their extremist ideology we have to intervene regardless of their numbers,”
President Sissi’s controversial past was also touched on during the 60 Minutes interview (video available on Twitter.) In 2013, nearly 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were massacred for protesting Sissi’s ousting of former President Mohammed Morsi during the Arab Spring revolts. In the interview, Sissi defended the move, saying it was necessary in order to protect citizens.
“There were thousands of armed people in the sit-in for more than 40 days,” Sissi said. “We tried every peaceful means to disburse them.” Official reports indicate that the number of guns recovered in the protest camp came in at just over a dozen.
Experts believe that the government’s concern over the interview was related to Egypt’s political partnership with Israel. Despite working together to combat ISIS, the two countries have publicly been at odds, and repeatedly denied working together. The government had previously denied allegations of the air strikes.
The CBS 60 Minutes interview will air Sunday night at 8 p.m. EST.