Conservative US lawmakers hail Egyptian army’s crackdown
Conservative trio pilloried for ignorance of their anti-Brotherhood tirade
Two months after the military ousted Egypt's first elected president and began a crackdown on his supporters, a delegation of US House Republicans has visited Cairo to tell the new government to keep up the good work.
"We are here as members of Congress to say, 'We are with you, and we encourage you'," Michele Bachmann said in a news conference broadcast over a pro-government satellite network and eagerly reported on Sunday by state news media.
Amplifying the new government's portrayal of its crackdown as a battle against terrorism, Bachmann wrongly implied a link between the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group whose party dominated elections after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak and now leads the opposition to the takeover. "We have seen the threat that the Muslim Brotherhood has posed around the world. We stand against this great evil," she said. "We remember who caused 9/11. We remember who it was that killed 3,000 brave Americans."
The United States and Egypt "have that common enemy, the terrorists who have shown themselves so recently in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood", Bachmann continued. "We don't have a choice. They must be defeated."
Louie Gohmert, appearing with her and Steve King, compared the leader of the military takeover, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to the first US president, George Washington. Gohmert overlooked the mass shootings of hundreds of mostly unarmed protesters, the army's round-up of thousands of political opponents and its suspension of all legal protection against arbitrary arrest or other police abuse; instead, he commended Sisi and the appointed civilian leaders for creating a government where the rule of law was "king".
All three vowed to defend the US$1.3 billion in annual US military aid to Egypt so that its army could continue its fight against what Gohmert called "the bloodthirsty Muslim Brothers".
US President Barack Obama has threatened to cut Egypt's military aid if the new government does not take swift steps towards a credible, inclusive democracy, including lifting its boot off the Brotherhood. Scholars said the ill-informed comments in Cairo suggested the exaggerated fear of Islamist extremism among some in Congress may be undermining his efforts.
"We have a confluence of interests among the coup leaders in Egypt and Islamophobes in the Congress," said Samer Shehata of the University of Oklahoma, who studies Egypt and the Brotherhood. He called the lawmakers' statements "utterly absurd" and compared the conference to "a Saturday Night Live skit - unbelievable, ludicrous, almost comic if it wasn't so painful".