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June 04, 2014

White House Statement Undermines U.S. Credibility in Egypt

Washington, D.C. - Human Rights First today described the White House’s response to the Egyptian presidential elections as misleading and damaging to U.S. credibility in the region. The official White House statement fails to take a clear stance in favor of prioritizing the universal values of democracy and human rights in policy decisions in Egypt moving forward.

In response to the White House press release, Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks issued the following statement:

“The United States again missed an opportunity to take a clear public stand in favor of human rights and democracy in Egypt. While the White House statement begins with positive observations about the poll and notes ‘concerns’ raised by international election monitors, it fails to mention the clear conclusions of the U.S. government funded election monitoring group, Democracy International, that ‘Egypt’s repressive political environment made a genuinely democratic presidential election impossible.’

“Failure to speak clearly about the importance of adherence to universal values has undermined the credibility of U.S. policy in Egypt and has harmed the reputation of the United States with the great majority of Egyptians, who are suspicious and distrustful of the goals of U.S. policy towards this important regional partner.

“The United States has a strong interest in Egypt finding its way to a peaceful, inclusive transition to democratic government rooted in respect for the rule of law and the human rights of all Egyptians. Failure to speak out clearly against the obvious shortcomings of President-elect Sisi’s victory harms those interests.

“It is striking and will not be lost to millions of people in the Arab world that the U.S. government easily condemned the presidential election in Syria as ‘a disgrace.’ The State Department statement in this case noted that ‘elections should be an opportunity for the people of a free society to be consulted and to play an important role in choosing their leaders.’ Surely the same standard should apply to Egypt.”

Yesterday, the Working Group on Egypt, of which Hicks is a member, issued a letter to President Obama urging him to overhaul U.S. policy toward Egypt following the flawed election of President Abdel Fattah al Sisi and the widespread violations of human rights that have occurred over the past months.

For more information or to speak with Hicks contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5259.