Anti-Islamist demonstrators in Cairo protest Hillary Clinton’s
visit to the country, claiming
that the U.S. favored Egypt’s new
Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, July 14.
Clinton Undaunted as
Convoy Pelted with Tomatoes, Water Bottles and Shoes (Islah
“One tomato struck
an Egyptian official in the face, while shoes and bottles of water were flung
at armored vehicles carrying the Clinton convoy. … The political affiliation of
the protesters was unclear, as protests have become the ‘norm’ in Egypt since
the huge demonstrations last year which led to the overthrow of former
President Hosni Mubarak.”
Protesters in Alexandria pelted the convoy U.S. Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton with tomatoes and shoes during her first visit to Egypt
since the election of its new president, Mohamed Morsi.
One tomato struck an Egyptian official in the face, while
shoes and bottles of water were flung at armored vehicles carrying the Clinton
convoy, after Clinton gave a speech on democratic rights.
A senior U.S. official said that none of the projectiles
struck Clinton or her car, which was nearby when the incident occurred.
Demonstrators chanted “Monica … Monica” in reference to the
affair between former President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky during his time
in the White House. An Egyptian security official said protesters were also
calling for Clinton to leave their country [see video below].
The political affiliation of the protesters was unclear, as
protests have become the “norm” in Egypt since the huge demonstrations last
year which led to the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak, who was a
long time American.
A state of political uncertainty over who controls the state
prevails in Egypt, as the military and Muslim Brotherhood, two huge forces,
engage in a power struggle for the future of the country. Egypt still lacks a permanent
constitution, parliament or government.
On Saturday evening, the protesters chanted anti-Islamist
slogans outside the hotel Clinton was staying, and accusing the United States
of supporting the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power.
“I want to be clear that the United States is not in the
business in Egypt of choosing winners and losers – even if we could, which of
course we cannot,” Clinton said. “We are prepared to work with you as you chart
your course, as you establish your democracy. … We want to stand for
principles, for values, not for people or for parties, but for what democracy
means in our understanding and experience.”
Earlier on Sunday, Clinton also met with the head of the
Supreme Council for the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi to discuss Egypt’s turbulent democratic
transition, with the military attempting to maintain its influence after the
election of a new president [see video below].
The meeting came a day after her meeting with President
Mohamed Morsi, who saw his powers neutered by the
military days before he took office.
President Morsi avenged the emasculation
of his powers by reinstating parliament, which is dominated by Islamists and which
was dissolved by the military after a court ruling declared it void. This only
served to deepen the crises before the new president even had time to form a
government [see video below].
A U.S. official traveling Clinton said in an e-mail briefing
that during the hour-long meeting she had with Tantawi,
they discussed Egypt’s political transition, “the ongoing discussion between
the military and President Morsi,” and the economic
problems facing the country.
“Tantawi stressed that what
Egyptians need most now is help getting their economy back on track,” the
The talks also touched on the situation in Sinai and the
Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
After his meeting with Clinton, Tantawi
said that the military respects the presidency, but will continue to play its
role of “protecting” Egypt.
Later, at a transfer of command ceremony for the Egyptian Second Army, Tantawi said, “The Armed Forces and Supreme Council respect
all of the legislative and executive authorities. But the military will not
allow anyone, particularly outsiders, to discourage us from taking up our role
of protecting Egypt and its people.”
Relationships between Cairo and Washington were strained
this year, when police raided the offices of several U.S. backed NGOs on
suspicion that they received illegal foreign funding, which resulted in a
number of Americans being put on trial. It is worth noting that the United
States provides 1.3 billion a year in military aid.
The crisis ended when Egyptian authorities allowed U.S.
citizens and other foreign workers to leave the country.
Clinton has said that Washington is willing to support “real
democracy” in which “no group or faction or leader can impose their will, their
ideology, their religion, their desires on anyone else.”
She is likely to have repeated this message during her
earlier meetings on Sunday with women and Christians, two groups who fear their
rights will be taken away under a government controlled by the Muslim
She said, "They
have legitimate concerns, and I will be honest … I will repeat, no Egyptian, no
persons anywhere, should be persecuted for their faith or their lack of faith
or their choices about working and not working.”
She added: “Democracy is not just about reflecting the will
of the majority; it is also about protecting the rights of the minority.”
Clinton said that the United States learned that “the hard way,”
as the original American Constitution did not protect the rights of women or Americans