We do not suggest that the Coptic Christian leader join the new government, or take a role in directing civil affairs, but his presence at the announcement of the interim government must be seen as a very hopeful sign. Ten percent of Egypt’s millions are Copts. Their human rights must be protected, too.
The ousted Mohamed Morsi delivered bleating televised message in which he complained of Egypt’s military violating “legitimacy.” He had done everything possible to trample on legitimacy.
After putting his hand out for more billions in U.S. foreign aid, his very next demand of us was to release the Egyptian Blind Sheikh. Omar Abdel Rahman is in prison here for directing the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Seven people died in that attack. It’s no accident that the later, more devastating 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was led by a radicalized young Egyptian, the jihadist Mohammed Atta.
And while you are talking turkey to Egypt, Sir, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to talk Egypt to Turkey. There, too, an Islamist regime is tightening the screws on all of civil society. There, too, journalists are being jailed and Christians are in danger. There, too, anti-Semitism is being used by a demagogue to gain power with the masses.
In Turkey, too, the civilian leader is gradually undermining the very bases for democracy. In fact, he openly says that democracy is only a “streetcar” that you ride until you get to the stop you want. That stop, obviously, is an Islamist state.
Your administration has been led by the nose by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He is working hard to dismantle Turkey’s successful effort to modernize and democratize their country. He is grinding down the military, opposition parliament members, and journalists.
Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby in the respected journal, World Affairs, describe your regional tilt toward Islamists thus:
[He]declared that Erdogan was one of five world leaders with whom he felt the closest relations. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deferred to Erdogan’s leadership in the Middle East, stating in 2011, at the early stage of the Syrian crisis, that the United States would follow Turkey’s lead.
We hope, President Obama, that you will take advantage of this pivotal moment in the Middle East to “re-set” your entire policy toward that perennially troubled region. Urge them to respect religious freedom, to give up their poisonous anti-Semitism, and to stop persecuting Christians. Talking turkey to the Egyptians can bring positive results. And a favorable example in Egypt could help stem the tide of intolerance in Turkey.