Egyptian MPs in Washington to rally support against Muslim Brotherhood in Congress circles

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 1 Apr 2017

The meetings the Egyptian delegation has held with US congressional leaders come ahead of President El-Sisi's upcoming visit to the White House

Egyptian parliament
File Photo: A general view of the Egyptian parliament during a working session in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)

Two Egyptian MPs who are members of a parliamentary delegation currently visiting Washington said they met a number of US Congress leaders to gather support for designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in the United States.

The Egyptian parliamentary delegation, led by deputy speaker Soliman Wahdan, left Cairo for New York and Washington Sunday to hold talks with US Congress members and Trump administration officials in a bid to rally support for the White House labeling Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.

The delegation includes MPs primarily affiliated with the Egyptian parliament's foreign affairs committee, such as Coptic MPs Emad Gad and Nadia Henry, and with the human rights committee, such as MP Hussein Gad.

In a statement Saturday, MP Hussein Gad said the Egyptian parliamentary delegation's visit to the US is mainly focused on gathering support among US Congress leaders for classifying Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.

"The visit also comes in harmony with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's expected meeting with new US President Donald Trump next Monday, as the White House said the meeting will focus on combating ISIS," said Gad.

Gad said the Egyptian delegation submitted to US Congress leaders a dossier of "documents and judicial rulings" establishing that the Muslim Brotherhood engages in terrorism.

Hussein Wahdan, head of the Egyptian parliamentary delegation, also said in a statement Saturday that the delegation met with US senator and former presidential election candidate Tex Cruz "to provide him with all the documents necessary to put Muslim Brotherhood on the US State Department's list of terrorist organisations."

"In our meetings with US Congress officials, we did our best to expose the terrorist nature of the Muslim Brotherhood," said Wahdan, adding that "We agreed with Senator Ted Cruz that we should work together in the coming period to expose the crimes of the Muslim Brotherhood before American public opinion."

'Call the enemy by its name' 

Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, and Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Florida, introduced a bill aimed at listing the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in 2015, and in January this year it was introduced again. Cruz tweeted that he was "proud to introduce the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act because it's time to call the enemy by its name."

Gad said one month ahead of President El-Sisi's visit to Washington that the Muslim Brotherhood "has been spending millions of dollars to lobby Washington officials and Congress members to avoid being designated a terror organisation."

"The conservative American media and research centres revealed that the leadership of the group, which is currently operating in Turkey, signed a contract with an American lobbying firm to spend $4.8 million to polish its image in the US mainstream media such as The New York Times and help it establish ties with Trump administration officials," said Gad.

Gad added that they learned from US Congress members that the Muslim Brotherhood's affiliated Egyptian Institute for Political and Strategic Studies, which operates from Turkey and is headed by former cabinet minister Amr Darrag, stands behind funding the pro-Muslim Brotherhood campaign in US media and congressional circles.

"The group began early preparing to confront the bill and prevent its passage in the form of launching a widespread informational media campaign, and as a result various articles have been published extolling the group and conveying a message that it is not a terrorist organisation," said Gad.

Gad said many American media outlets have also claimed in recent days that the Trump administration postponed an executive order designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.

"All of these are just rumours that form a part of the pro-Brotherhood campaign," said Gad, adding that he expects that "after his meeting with Arab leaders who will visit Washington this month, such as President El-Sisi, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the administration of Donald Trump will be able to reach a final conclusion on whether the Muslim Brotherhood should be designated a terrorist organisation."

The delegation also met with US Republican congressmen Steve King and Louie Gohmert. Gad indicated that "After Egyptians revolted against the Muslim Brotherhood regime in the summer of 2013, the two, Steve King and Louie Gohmert, issued a statement describing the 2013 revolution as a glorious battle against terrorism."

"They told us they fully support listing Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation," he added.

Another Egyptian delegation is also currently visiting New York and Washington to gather support for President El-Sisi's first state visit to the US.

The so-called "popular diplomacy" delegation met with leading members of Egyptian Coptic organisations in the United States.

The delegation is composed of members from different political parties such as the Future of Homeland, the Congress and the Free Egyptians. Ahmed El-Fadali, head of the Democratic Peace Party, said the delegation met "the judicial committee that is affiliated with the US Congress" to probe labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.

"This is the committee that is tasked with giving a final say on whether Muslim Brotherhood should be listed a terrorist organisation," said El-Fadally.

"The delegation provided the committee with tens of reports and videotapes documenting the terrorist nature of the Muslim Brotherhood and showing that it is the mother of all radical and militant Islam movements, particularly ISIS."

El-Fadally said the delegation urged all Coptic organisations to work hard to stand up to pro-Brotherhood media campaigns in the US. "We told them you should do your part in exposing the terrorist nature of this organisation to Americans and how it harassed Copts and torched Coptic churches under its rule."

Maged Nour, a US businessman who is head of the American Coptic Association, met with the Egyptian parliamentary and popular diplomacy delegations and Egypt's ambassador to the US last week. Nour said Copts will be keen in organising pro-Sisi demonstrations in Washington.

"These will be particularly on 3 April when presidents Sisi and Trump meet in the White House," said Nour.

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