Head of Egypt parliament's Culture, Media and Antiquities Committee Osama Heikal and the US embassy in Cairo's Charge d'Affaires Thomas Goldberger meet in Cairo, 7 August 2017 (Photo by: Khaled Mashal)
MPs from two parliamentary committees have told the US embassy’s chargé d'affaires that they object to a recent US travel notice that warns Americans of threats in Egypt “from terrorist and violent political opposition groups."
The head of Egypt parliament's culture, media and antiquities committee, Osama Heikal, told reporters that members of that committee and of the foreign affairs committee took the opportunity to voice their objections at a meeting on Sunday morning with Thomas Goldberger.
Heikal said the meeting came upon the request of the American diplomat.
In a statement on 19 July the US Department of State warned "US citizens to consider the risks of travel to Egypt due to threats from terrorist and violent political opposition groups."
The statement claimed that "terrorist attacks can occur anywhere in the country, including major metropolitan areas."
In a quick and angry response to the statement, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry asked Egypt's embassy in the US to officially object to the US travel warning.
In addition, the foreign ministry said in a statement on 21 July that "the US Department of State’s recent travel warning on Egypt is misleading and inaccurate and does not reflect the situation in Egypt."
"The US embassy in Washington handed a letter to the Department of State conveying Egypt's concern over the wording used in the warning, urging them to be accurate and not spread misleading information," the ministry's spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said.
Heikal told reporters that Egypt's parliament has also sent a letter to the US Congress, voicing objection to the travel warning.
"The letter, sent a few days ago, strongly objected to the travel warning, and for this reason the US embassy's chargé d'affaires requested a meeting with us," said Heikal, adding that "MPs told the US embassy delegation that the travel warning statement was based on inaccurate information, not to mention that it was not issued in coordination with the Egyptian government."
"We also told Goldberger that the warning came at a very crucial time, while Egypt is fighting a ferocious war against terrorism, and that the inaccurate warning could be used to negatively harm tourism traffic and investment inflow into Egypt," said Heikal.
Some MPs said that the US travel warning was exploited by Al Jazeera to tarnish the country's image and warn against tourism.
Heikal indicated that MPs also objected in particular to the US warning using the phrase "violent political opposition groups."
"It seems that those who write these statements in America do not understand the difference between opposition and terrorism, and that most of them are still loyal to the legacy of former US president Barack Obama, who strongly supported political Islam," Heikal said.
According to Heikal, MPs told Goldberger that they had reservations about America's role in Egypt and the region when Obama was in office.
"We thought that Obama's departure would lead to improving relations with America, but the latest warning took us by surprise, showing the Obama mentality is still there in America's Department of State and that they are still fond of using their old styles," said Heikal.
The meeting was attended by two US embassy officials and Egyptian MPs Dahlia Youssef, Amna Nosseir, Tarek El-Khouli, Injy Fahmi, Mohamed El-Sallab, and Yasmine Abu Taleb.