Some Senate Reaction to Events in Egypt

As most know by now, there are ongoing protests in Egypt amidst mounting citizen frustration regarding the existing government and ruling party. Below is a sample of reactions from Senate members to these events.

John McCain (R-AZ):

“I am extremely concerned about the ongoing events in Egypt.  President Mubarak has been an important and valued friend of the United States, but the response of the Egyptian government to the ongoing protests, and to the broader demands of its citizens, is deeply troubling.  I am disturbed by reports that Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei was assaulted by Egyptian security forces today and is now under house arrest.  I call on the Egyptian government to release him immediately, along with other peaceful protesters, and for all parties to refrain from the use of violence.  Where the free flow of information and communication has been shut down or restricted, it should be promptly restored.  I am especially troubled by reports that the Egyptian government has ordered the military into the streets in response to the protest.  I strongly believe the Egyptian military has no role to play in resolving the present situation.

“The demonstrations in Egypt underscore the just demands of the Egyptian people for political, economic, and social reform.  I urge the Egyptian government to heed this call by taking concrete and immediate steps to address the legitimate grievances of Egypt’s citizens.  Such steps could include the repeal of the emergency law, restoring independent judicial supervision of elections, opening greater space for political parties to organize and compete peacefully for power, and permitting credible national and international monitors to be present in the upcoming presidential elections. U.S. officials have urged Egyptian officials for many years, both publicly and privately, to undertake these and other reforms, out of our concern for Egypt’s long-term stability and in the spirit of friendship that has characterized our bilateral partnership.  I hope the current protests serve as a wake-up call for the Egyptian government to undertake reforms.

“This is a pivotal moment for U.S.-Egyptian relations.  The actions and decisions of the Egyptian government in the hours and days ahead could have significant implications for our bilateral relationship, including U.S. assistance.”

Pat Leahy (D-VT):

“I join President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton in voicing strong support for the fundamental right of freedom of expression and assembly for the Egyptian people, and in urging the Egyptian Government not to block access to internet communications, including online social media.  As the situation in Egypt continues to unfold, I urge all parties to refrain from using violence. 

“The Internet – a product of American innovation – is a vital tool for communicating and sharing information and for ensuring the rights and basic freedoms of people everywhere.  A free and open internet is essential to ensuring the universal rights of the people of Egypt, and of all peoples, to freedom of expression, confidence in the rule of law, and government that is transparent and accountable to the citizens.

“The Egyptian Government has long received military supplies and assistance from the United States, which creates another level of concern for Americans as we watch what seem to be the largely peaceful protests in that country.  United States laws specifically prescribe the uses of such assistance.  I call on the Egyptian authorities to ensure that the rights and well being of civilian protestors are respected and protected.  The misuse of force, with or without U.S. supplied ordnance, would threaten the safety of civilians and draw the condemnation of a watching world.”

John Kerry (D-MA), per the AFP:

"In the final analysis, it is not with rubber bullets and water cannons that order will be restored," said Kerry, a Democratic White House ally who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"President Mubarak has the opportunity to quell the unrest by guaranteeing that a free and open democratic process will be in place when the time comes to choose the country’s next leader later this year," he said in a statement.


The senator expressed "grave concern" about the unrest and warned: "We know that repression will not remedy the problems that leave people in Egypt and across the Middle East feeling hopeless and frustrated."

Still, he praised Egypt as "an important American ally" even as he called on "the Egyptian government and security forces to exercise restraint in dealing with protesters and to respect the human rights of its citizens to seek greater participation in their own government."

"The Egyptian government also should immediately restore communications and access to social networking sites," said Kerry, who also urged the demonstrators to recall "the lessons and legacy" of non-violent protesters like Martin Luther King Jr in the United States and Mahatma Gandhi in India.

"The time has come for governments in the region to urgently improve governance and transparency, open the field to true opposition and new political identities, create real avenues for listening to and considering the wants and needs of their citizens, and demonstrate to younger generations that they will have better opportunities tomorrow than they do today," he said.


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