Last July when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Egypt she was met with widespread protest from Coptic Christians and secular activists objecting to what they all believed was the Obama administration’s role in helping the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) ascend to power in Egypt.
The secretary had requested to meet with ten Christian leaders, myself included. All of those invited refused to meet with her and boycotted her visit. Most of us had been both publicly and privately warning members of Congress and the administration of the danger the Muslims Brotherhood poses and about their desire to turn Egypt into a theocratic Islamic fascist country. Yet we were ignored.
Going back to April 2007, Democrats made special efforts to link up with the MB when visiting then-House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., met with Dr. Saad el-Katatni, the MB’s parliamentary leader, at former U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone’s home, at a time when then-Secretary Condoleezza Rice has publicly refused to meet with the Brotherhood.
Mr. Ricciardone, who I can call a friend, once told me that his friendship with another MB leader, Essam El- Erain, extended for close to 30 years. Perhaps that was the catalyst for this meeting and subsequent meetings that took place at his residency.
A stream of meetings as well as public and private contacts followed between current U.S. Ambassador Ann Paterson and members of the Brotherhood since her arrival to Egypt shortly after the revolution. The ambassador seemed to favor the Brotherhood and the hardliner Salafis over the rest of the secular players in Egypt.
In fact, she has turned down requests for meetings from heads of political parties and other secular politicians, myself included, who opposed the Brotherhood.
In addition to the ambassador, other U.S. officials such as Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Sen. John Kerry made the pilgrimage to the MB headquarters and made sure to meet with their leader, Khairat El-Shater, at times even publicly praising him, as did Mr. Kerry. Those visits were made during a time where no political group had emerged as a leader in post-revolution Egypt.
The MBs used these high-level meetings to tell the Egyptian people that the U.S. was supporting them and did not object to their rule. Many of us reached out to U.S. officials at the State Department and complained that the U.S. policy regarding the MB was putting the secular forces in Egypt at a disadvantage because it seemed to be propping up the MB, but our concerns were dismissed.
We warned of the MB’s desire to impose Sharia law once in power and the grim effect it would have on the rights of the millions of Christians and moderate Muslims, including women and children, yet all of our warnings were dismissed. It seems that a policy decision was made to bring the MB to power in Egypt at all costs, and it happened.
After being in office for less than six months, President Morsi issued an edict exempting his decrees from judicial review, and he is now forcing Egyptians to vote on a constitution that would impose Sharia law, violate human rights and religious freedom of Christians, degrade women, regulate child labor, and kill the tourism industry for violating Islamic Sharia.