The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warned against “prejudging” the Muslim Brotherhood as Mohammed Morsi became Egypt’s first Islamist president today.
“During my recent visits to Cairo, I’ve had two candid discussions with the new president. He’s acknowledged that the central issue to Egypt’s future is economic. His words suggest he understands the gravity of the challenges facing Egypt,” Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said today.
“In our discussions, Mr. Morsi committed to protecting fundamental freedoms, including women’s rights, minority rights, the right to free expression and assembly, and he said he understood the importance of Egypt’s post-revolutionary relationships with America and Israel,” he added. “Ultimately, just as it is anywhere in the world, actions will matter more than words.”
Kerry said Egypt faces many challenges, but remains a “bellwether for the long term meaning of the Arab Spring.”
“Obviously American concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood’s past statements and positions are widely shared and well understood. But it would be a mistake for us to pull back from our engagement with a free and democratic Egypt,” the senator said. “This is a time to test intentions not to prejudge them. All parties must come together to build a better future for the Egyptian people and I will continue to monitor Egypt’s political transition with great interest.”
UPDATE: The statement from the White House press office made no made of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“We look forward to working together with President-elect Morsi and the government he forms, on the basis of mutual respect, to advance the many shared interests between Egypt and the United States. We believe that it is important for President-elect Morsi to take steps at this historic time to advance national unity by reaching out to all parties and constituencies in consultations about the formation of a new government,” the press secretary said.
“We believe in the importance of the new Egyptian government upholding universal values, and respecting the rights of all Egyptian citizens – including women and religious minorities such as Coptic Christians. Millions of Egyptians voted in the election, and President-elect Morsi and the new Egyptian government have both the legitimacy and responsibility of representing a diverse and courageous citizenry.”