Egyptian delegation to visit US to discuss future of political Islam under Trump

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 11 Jan 2017

MP Tarek Radwan said the main objective of the visit is to gain support among US Congress members for designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation

MP Tarek Radwan
Deputy foreign affairs committee MP Tarek Radwan speaking in the Egyptian Parliament (Photo Courtesy of MP Radwan Facebook page)

A 15-member Egyptian delegation will visit the United States on 21 January – one day after Donald Trump takes office as president – to discuss issues related to political Islam, terrorism, human rights and democratisation in Egypt.

Tarek Radwan, deputy chairman of the Egyptian parliament's foreign affairs committee, said the visit will last one week – from 21 to 28 January.

"The delegation will include Egyptian MPs and civil society representatives," said Radwan.

Radwan said the delegation will include MP Dahlia Youssef, chairwoman of the Egyptian-British Parliamentary Friendship Association, MP Tarek El-Khouli, head of parliament's human rights committee and a leading official of the liberal Free Egyptians Party Alaa Abed, businessman MP Mohamed El-Sallab and independent MP Rasha Ramadan.

The delegation will also include civil society activists, including Dahlia Ziada, Dawlet Swailem, Ibrahim Negm, ambassador Mona Omar, Basma Wahba and Coptic priest Radi Iskandar.Radwan told reporters Wednesday that the schedule of the visit will be drawn up by Egypt's foreign ministry.

"As far as I know the delegation will meet with US Congress members and officials affiliated with the new administration of president-elect Donald Trump," said Radwan.

Radwan said the visit comes on the heels of Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry's US visit last month.

"The foreign ministry wants us to open contacts with a new US congress and a new administration which is completely different, in terms of being hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood and other political Islam movements," said Radwan.

The deputy chairman said that Egypt's foreign ministry would arrange meetings with Donald Trump's Middle East affairs advisor Walid Phares and Republican Party congressmen who have repeatedly announced that they are in support of designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation on the US State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

"We are in a war against this group and other radical political Islam movements, so it is important to exploit the new anti-radical Islam atmosphere in America to achieve our goal," said Radwan.

He also said that the parliament's moves against political Islam have gained momentum in recent weeks.

"While parliament's foreign affairs committee issued a very important report on the dangers of political Islam in November, a parliamentary delegation visited London in December to ring alarm bells on this issue," Radwan said.

In his presidential campaign speeches last summer, US president-elect Donald Trump described the Muslim Brotherhood as "a radical political Islam movement." Trump also said if elected, he would hold an international conference on terrorism and radical Islam.

Trump's advisor Walid Phares, a Lebanese American academic, told an Egyptian parliamentary delegation last September that the election of Trump and a Republican majority in the US Congress would put the Muslim Brotherhood on the US's list of terrorist organisations.

Radwan said the upcoming delegation will also be keen to present a balanced view of the situation of human rights and democratic transition in Egypt.

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