Thursday, April 20, 2006

Condoleezza Rice Speech & Q&A Session At CFR

Condoleezza Rice mentions the incident in Alexandria in part of the Q&A (link):

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. My name is Kemal Abraham (ph) and I'm going (inaudible) another question related to the other two questions before that, is to do with human rights and equality in Egypt. Egypt is a friendly country to our country is getting the biggest aid after Israel for the last 20-some years. But as you know, Egyptian Government discriminate against minority Christians in Egypt and it is always a chain of violence. Last one -- last few days, they attacked churches in Alexandria, Muslim fanatics, and killed a Christian there.

My question to you is two-folds. One, what is the American Government going to do about our friend, the Government in Egypt, since we gave them the biggest aid and since it's a human right issue and equality issue and democracy issue? And my second question is, why the State Department opened dialogue with Muslim brotherhood in Egypt after they won the -- some of the election and we know that their extreme fanatic Muslim group -- which related to Hamas as well?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, on the latter question, we actually do not, as a rule, maintain contacts with Hamas. As you know, they're listed as a terrorist organization. And we have not -- we don't have contact with the Muslim brotherhood at this point. It's complicated because, of course, this is a growing force in Egypt, but our view is that the organizations that are really committed to democracy ought to be the ones that are supported by contact with the United States.

As it comes to the broader problem in Egypt, though, you know that I gave a speech at Cairo University. We talked about the need for Egypt to lead -- this great country of Egypt to lead the democratic revolution that is going on in the Middle East. And some good things have happened. I think the multiparty, multi-candidate elections that took place were a good thing. It opened a political debate in Egypt that had never been seen before and I think it will be hard to reverse that ever again.

On the other hand, we were disappointed in the way that the last round of parliamentary elections was conducted. It certainly was not conducted in a way that was free and fair and that was a great disappointment. And we continue to tell Egypt that this is an extremely important part of our relationship and it's going to continue to be the democratic dialogue.

As to the incident the other day in Alexandria, yes, it is too often that something like this happens to religious minorities, including to Coptic Christians, and we are insisting that -- and I think the Egyptian Government says that they will, that it be investigated and those who carried it out will be brought to justice. But it is a country that also is in an evolution, Egypt. I think it will ultimately be in an evolution for the better, but it is a country that ought to be leading, not fearful of change and reform, but leading that change and reform because it's such a great culture.

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