Egypt will follow U.S. legal process with 'Blind Sheikh,' ambassador says
Egyptian officials paid a consular visit to the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, in federal prison in North Carolina within the past two months but have not formally requested his transfer out of America, the country's ambassador to the United States told the Tribune-Review on Thursday.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy has said he will work for the transfer of the Muslim cleric serving a life sentence for his role in plotting terrorist attacks, including the bombing 20 years ago this week of the World Trade Center in New York. But Ambassador Mohamed M. Tawfik said Morsy will follow a legal process rather than a political one.
“He understands that this is an issue that should be dealt with through legal channels,” Tawfik said. “This is not a political issue between Egypt and the United States. … It would depend on what the U.S. law says.”
Tawfik added that Rahman, 74, who is being held in Butner Federal Medical Center, is in “good shape.”
Tawfik spoke to the Trib in the Duquesne Club, Downtown, during only his second solo visit — after New York — to an American city since assuming his post in September.
The American Middle East Institute is hosting Tawfik's visit, which is expected to include an event Friday with University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and an invitation-only luncheon in the Duquesne Club. The Pittsburgh-based institute advocates for economic partnerships with the Middle East.
“We believe creating these kinds of business partnerships is a very stabilizing force and is a really important kind of diplomacy,” said Simin Yazdgerdi Curtis, president of the institute. “This visit is to open some doors, introduce Ambassador Tawfik to our community and perhaps whet his appetite about what is going on here.”
Egypt, the most populous Arab state and a longtime U.S. ally, is facing its most serious political and economic problems since its revolution two years ago. The nation is deeply divided between ruling Islamists, led by Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood, and political liberals.
Because of growing anger against the Obama administration for perceived support of the Muslim Brotherhood, opposition leaders have refused to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry on his first official visit to Egypt on Saturday. Liberals, instead, plan to protest the visit.
Tawfik, who had a long foreign service career under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, said the almost-daily protests throughout Egypt are the result of a “lively democratic process.” He said the country should settle down after parliamentary elections, scheduled to begin April 22.
He condemned a spate of sexual attacks on women in Egypt, saying the country is trying to crack down on the attackers and that the victims should never be blamed for the assaults.
Egypt must — and will — do more to protect its antiquities from being stolen, the ambassador said.
The Trib's Middle East correspondent Betsy Hiel has reported about the brazen looting of Egypt's historical treasures, saying police who abandoned their posts during the revolution remain disorganized. Critics have accused Egypt's Islamist government of caring little for the treasures, which are usually taken by armed thieves.
Andrew Conte is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at 412-320-7835 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Andrew Conte to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Apartment development outlined for former Schenley High School in Pittsburgh
- Defying the odds makes this Thanksgiving particularly poignant
- Growth spurs expanded staff at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
- Millions in pollution fines went unused for decades in Allegheny County
- Group’s proposed fracking moratorium for Allegheny County parks to go on council agenda
- Rare surgery helps woman beat paralysis
- Newsmaker: Daniel Eichinger
- Dinners, other Thanksgiving events planned in region
- Girl, 12, rescues 4-year-old sister from burning house in Homestead
- Reading Harry Potter provides clues to brain activity, CMU researchers say
- U.S. Steel Tower tenants stand to benefit from company’s relocation