2010-2019 | Arms exports | Backing dictatorships | Egypt

Cameron takes arms traders with him on visit to promote democracy

David Cameron giving a lecture in 2010.
Chatham House – CC BY 2.0 – via Flickr.

21 February 2011

On 21 February 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Cairo, ostensibly to support Egypt’s first tentative steps towards a possible democracy, in the wake of the protests which had just toppled the former dictator, Hosni Mubarak. Accompanying the PM, were a coterie of British businessmen, including several senior CEOs from the arms industry. It was British defence and security companies which had equipped Egypt and other authoritarian regimes across the region with the tear gas, guns and ammunition which they had used for decades to repress any democratic opposition. As Cameron strolled around Tahrir Square, expressing approval of the toppling of a brutal regime his own government had previously backed, he appeared to be unaware that it was the anniversary, to the day, of the worst massacre of protesters ever in the Square, by British troops armed with machine guns 65 years earlier.

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