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Ex-Ambassador of Egypt’s response to the New York Times’ editorial

The following is a letter to the editor submitted by the Embassy to the New York Times regarding their editorial board’s recent commentary.

To the Editor, 

The New York Times May 19th editorial “In Egypt, Deplorable death Sentences” starts with yet another outright fabrication.

It claims that an Egyptian court has sentenced Mohamed Morsi and others to death. Had the editorial board chosen to apply basic standards of journalism, they would have disclosed that the judge actually set a date in early June to pronounce his sentence. Until that time, any reports as to what that sentence may be amount to nothing more than conjecture. Faithful to what has become its established policy, the Times again goes out of its way to absolve the Moslem Brotherhood of their crimes. At a time when the Brotherhood’s official media outlets are openly instigating their followers to violence and terrorism, this newspaper makes the claim that the Moslem Brotherhood “renounced violence in the 1970s” without providing a shred of evidence to that effect, and brushing aside the ample evidence to the opposite that has surfaced in recent years. In January of this year, the Moslim Brotherhood’s official website posted a statement in Arabic calling for a “long, uncompromising Jihad” against Egypt, while the Brotherhood-controlled TV called for the assassination of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. Soon thereafter, terrorist attacks in North Sinai killed more than 30 and injured nearly 100. The Times editorial makes a clumsy attempt at reinterpreting these calls as an “invitation to continue to demonstrate peacefully”. I wonder how they would defend similar Moslem Brotherhood calls to target Westerners.

In an attempt to sidestep the serious events at the heart of Morsi’s trial, the editorial board sums the case this way: “He was among scores of Moslem Brotherhood members who broke free from jail after being unfairly detained in the early days of the revolution”. There is not as much as a hint to the coordinated assaults with heavy weaponry that caused those jailbreaks. The Times is even mute on the victims, the guards and inmates who were brutally murdered for Morsi and his colleagues to walk free.

Frankly, I never expected this editorial board to mention that members of Hamas and Hezbollah were among the prisoners freed by the assailants. It simple would have been too close to the truth, exposing the network of militant organizations in our region and elsewhere, at the heart of which is, of course, the Moslem Brotherhood, without whose help these militants would have been unable to quickly resurface in Gaza and Beirut, respectively.

Even more disturbing than its misrepresentations of Egypt’s judiciary, or its unquestioning adoption of Moslem Brotherhood’s propaganda, is the Times’ attempt to explain away the actions of terrorists. Rather than condemn unequivocally the cold-blooded assassination of three Egyptian judges by terrorists, or at least show sympathy for their families’ suffering, the Times asserts that “a surge in terrorist attacks during the past two years, including recent ones targeting judges, suggests that armed violence is increasingly becoming an acceptable response”. This statement demonstrates, at best, a complete misunderstanding of the roots of radicalism. At worst, it amounts to a justification for violent extremism.

Today, terrorists in Egypt are part of a network of extremists who are bound by a singular distorted ideology, and by a shared goal of taking our region back hundreds of years. They are inspired by the radical teachings of the former Moslem Brotherhood leader Sayyid Kutb. Terrorists in Egypt share the same evil goals as terrorists in Iraq, Syria and Libya. To say that one court case will further enflame radicalism neglects the stark reality that terrorists in Egypt and across the region are already enflamed by a deadly hate. Asserting that decisions in Egypt’s legal system will breed more terrorists ignores the thousands of Western fighters who are flocking to join ISIS. According to the skewed logic of the New York Times editorial, who should bear the blame for the Oklahoma or Boston bombings?


Mohamed Tawfik, Egyptian Ambassador to the United States

3521 International Court, NW.

Washington, DC 20008.