Egypt's president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi just can't win. Despite stepping up to halt the fanatical Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood from gaining power, and holding former president Hosni Mubarak accountable for human rights abuses, he continues to garner ill-will.
So much so that he has canceled a planned visit to South Africa for the African Union (AU) summit this week, after a group of Islamist lawyers filed a legal request for his arrest.
The Egyptian president was scheduled to arrive Friday in Johannesburg as leader of his country’s delegation to the 25th AU summit titled “Enabling African Women,” which begins on June 14.
An Egyptian presidential source confirmed that el-Sisi would no longer be attending the summit and that Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb would instead lead the Egyptian delegation.
A well-informed African diplomatic source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Egypt had officially confirmed to the host country that el-Sisi would not take part in the meeting and that Mehleb would instead lead the Egyptian delegation.
El-Sisi has erred on the side of caution after South Africa’s Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) filed the arrest request on Wednesday, which could have meant detention upon his arrival in Johannesburg, where the summit is being held.
“We believe al-Sisi committed war crimes and crimes against humanity for the horrendous killings that resulted from the  coup in Egypt,” attorney Yousha Tayoub, an MLA member, stated.
Yet by all accounts el-Sisi is one of the few Arabs in the region not deranged by religious ideology and who genuinely cares for both his people and his country. His decision to stop the radical Muslim Brotherhood was made out of concern for both his people and his Arab neighbors.
Egypt has one of the most formidable and well trained militaries in the region. Were that to fall into the wrong hands there is no telling how it might destabilize the region or be used against civilians, which el-Sisi seemed to appreciate when he assumed power and arrested members of the radical Islamists after the Arab Spring revolts of 2011.
For this, he continues to be harassed by radical Islamists.