Senator John Kerry, head of the Senate foreign relations committee, arrived in Cairo Tuesday evening, as part of his tour of the region, to hold talks with Egyptian officials about the “democratic transformation” of Egypt, according to the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA. Kerry and his Egyptian hosts will be discussing the presidential elections due late in May, and the conflicts in the region, including Syria, the Sudan and Israel.
According to Al Ahram, Senator Kerry and US Ambassador to Cairo Ann Patterson will meet with Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate and head of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Mohamed Mursi, at the FJP headquarters on Wednesday.
The FJP, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, came into being following the January 25 Egyptian revolution. Until then, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest and most powerful Islamist organization, was not only prevented from forming a party, but was legally barred from political life altogether. The group paid a heavy price in incarcerations and persecution under the rule of deposed President Hosni Mubarak.
Khaled Kazzaz, an FJP member of Egypt’s foreign relations committee, told Al Ahram, “The visit comes in the context of the US government’s concern over Egypt’s democratic transition, witnessing the evolution of the political scene in the transitional phase, becoming familiar with the FJP’s presidential candidate and reviewing the renaissance project.”
Kerry’s last visit to Cairo was in early December. In their meeting then with the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, Brotherhood officials vowed to respect civil rights and international treaties, attempting to allay fears that the Islamist organization would revoke Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
In that vein, the FJP’s website on April 22 cited Dr. Morsi on the peace treaty with Israel “should his bid be successful in Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections.”
Dr. Morsi said that “Egypt is a great country, with honorable history and important international relations and diplomatic representation all over the world. A democracy’s institutions oblige the President to be representative of all Egyptians and to also respect agreements and conventions of the Egyptian state with the rest of world States.”
But on April 20, Deputy Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood Gomaa Amin said that Egypt’s Grand Mufti’s visit to Jerusalem was unacceptable “because Jerusalem is under occupation. There is an almost unanimous consensus on banning all visits until Jerusalem is free again.”
Amin declared that “the Grand Mufti has violated the emotional perspective of Muslims. Pope Shenouda III had emphasized this ban for our Christian brothers and sisters, against visiting Jerusalem under occupation. So, it certainly is unacceptable for the Mufti to visit the Holy City at this time.”