Now that Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi has settled the constitutional issues facing his country, he can turn his attention to the truly pressing problems of the Arab Spring state. Would that be religious tolerance, economic growth, and the pursuit of peace in the region? Er … not exactly. In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last night, Morsi urged Barack Obama to free Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as the Blind Sheikh, currently serving a life sentence in a maximum-security federal prison in North Carolina for his involvement in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.
Breitbart has the transcript, in which Morsi argues for at least a change in venue so that he can have visitors:
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I asked the Egyptian President about the blind Egyptian cleric who was convicted here in the United States in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Omar Abdel-Rahman is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison.
Just clarify your position on what you want the U.S. Government to do as far as the “blind sheikh” is concerned, who’s being held in prison in the United States, convicted of his involvement in blowing up of the 1993 World Trade Center incident.
TRANSLATOR FOR EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT MORSI: I want him to be free, but I respect the law and the rule of law in Egypt and the United States. What I am talking about isn’t a violation. I don’t want a violation of the rule of law, but there are also many humane aspects. There can be things like visitation, assistance, his children, his family assisting him. He is an old sheikh and sick and blind. We need to respect that. Is there a chance for hi to be freed? I wish this, but considering my respect and appreciation for the American rule of law and the American government, our relationship, Egypt’s relationship with America deserves that these issues be reviewed, if that is okay according to the law. If it isn’t possible, and I hope that it is possible, if it wasn’t possible, than these humane aspects need to be taken into account; for him to be in a humane prison, to be able to have visitors, to be able to have company, to be able to visit with his sons and children, for his family to visit, for us to see him, for people to see him and know how he is doing. Because he is a man, an old man, and he deserves full care. I wish that there could be a big possibility for the American administration to look into this matter about this sheikh who is very old without there being — I don’t intend on violating the rule of law in any place and I don’t like anyone asking me to violate the rule of law in my own country, but the humane aspects at the very least need to be guaranteed.
WOLF BLITZER: Will you make this appeal directly to President Obama when you see him?
TRANSLATOR: When I meet with him I will talk to him about this issue.
Yes, I’m sure having visitors will work out well — just like when his attorney, Lynne Stewart, took it upon herself to transmit messages to Abdel-Rahman’s followers that he wanted to encourage them to break a cease-fire with Egypt’s government at the time. She’s serving 10 years in federal prison for being a conduit. Morsi wants Obama to at least cut out the middleman.
I doubt that Obama is foolish enough to be moved by Morsi’s entreaties. However, it’s rather interesting that Morsi’s top issue in the US is an old terrorist who tried to accomplish what al-Qaeda later succeeded at doing, rather than finding ways to promote peace and harmony in the Middle East.