Skepticism surrounds American Islamic Congress's opening in Cairo

Alexandra Sandels
5 Min Read

CAIRO: Only a few days after its official opening in Egypt, nonprofit organization American Islamic Congress (AIC) and its country director were accused of running the errands of the Bush administration and “bringing home the American conspiracy and foreign policy, according to the organization s Cairo Director Dalia Ziada.

AIC opened its doors in Cairo on the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with the aim of promoting non-violence and inter-ethnic understanding in Egypt and the Middle East.

The initiative was spearheaded by Hamsa (Hands Across the Middle East Alliance), a civil rights organization under AIC established in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to “bridge activist efforts in America and the Middle East to promote civil rights in the Middle East, according to its mission statement.

Earlier this week, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Member of Parliment Essam Mokhtar reportedly attacked the opening of AIC s Cairo office, demanding an explanation from the national government of how a “pro-Iraq war organization was allowed to operate in Egypt.

There are a lot of questions AIC needs to answer in order to prove their legitimacy. For example, what are they doing in Egypt and what is their agenda? It is all very fuzzy, Mokhtar said in an interview with Daily News Egypt.

An issue that is particularly worrisome to Mokhtar is AIC s sources of funding. I d like to know where this organization is getting its funds from. It s an American organization so there might be Zionist funds involved here, Mokhtar said.

Not only the Brotherhood but also members of the Egyptian press have posed “ridiculous accusations against AIC, emphasized Ziada.

They are attacking us for the mere fact that we are an American group, Ziada said in an interview with Daily News Egypt.

In a lengthy article recently published on Al-Arabiya network, it was allegedly questioned whether the Executive Director of Hamsa Zainab Al-Suwaij is “promoting the American invasion through her work and whether Ziada is “engaging Egypt in the American conspiracy.

I am shocked. We are the best that could happen to the Middle East. We are promoting civil rights and protection of human rights. We are an NGO and not affiliated with the US government. The word congress in our name seems to make people believe that we are supporting the Bush administration, Ziada continued.

In another twist, Ziada stressed that the media discussions about the operations of AIC are targeting her private life, saying that journalists are speculating whether she has undergone female circumcision.

The discussion has taken an unexpected and disturbing path. Talking about female circumcision in Egypt and speculating whether I am circumcised has nothing to do with AIC s activities, Ziada said.

In response, Mokhtar argued that Ziada is “flaunting the fact that she was not circumcised and inaccurately portrays herself as a “survivor.

While Hamsa keeps stressing its status as an independent NGO, Egyptian activists and bloggers remain skeptical towards its real intentions and agenda in the Arab world.

Many members of the Egyptian blogosphere believe that Hamsa is working with the US government and supporting its foreign policy, including the invasion of Iraq. It is definitely not an independent NGO, Shahinaz Abdel Salam, moderator of the blog Wa7damasrya, told Daily News Egypt.

Journalist Wael Abbas who leads the acclaimed blog Misr Digital told Daily News Egypt that “while there are bad rumors circulating about AIC, it is important to look at the bigger picture.

I don t understand why people keep causing ruckus over organizations such as the AIC. They should instead focus their efforts on the Egyptian government which carries out US foreign policy here, Abbas emphasized.

Share This Article
Leave a comment