FJP criticizes initiative to replace US aid

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party on Wednesday criticized an initiative led by a prominent Salafi sheikh to replace US aid to Egypt, state-run news agency MENA reported.

FJP President Mohamed Morsy said any talk about alternatives to the aid could impede the establishment of the state’s constitutional institutions, according to MENA.

“This is military aid linked to the Camp David treaty, and it’s not the time to talk about it now,” Morsy said while casting his vote for the Shura Council elections in Sharqiya.

Salafi preacher Mohamed Hassan appeared on state TV Saturday and called for replacing US aid with “Egyptian aid.” He urged Egyptians inside and outside the country to donate to a fund to replace US aid, which he said is used to pressure Egyptian decision makers.

Hassan in an interview with Al-Hayat 2 satellite channel said he will meet with Al-Azhar’s grand sheikh Wednesday to discuss the initiative.

“The Egyptian people are capable of collecting a sum greater than US aid. This is a nation that would accept to be hungry but not to be humiliated…” he said.

“University students, textile workers and telecommunications companies have already responded to the initiative,” he said.

Rashad Bayoumy, the Brotherhood’s deputy supreme guide, said US threats to cut off aid will not scare Egyptians, describing the aid as “unclean shackles that restrict our freedom and should be removed.”

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Bayoumy called on Egyptians to work to do away with the aid.

Hassan said the initiative will be launched within days in agreement with Al-Azhar.

The preacher also said he has proposed several names of the person who would be responsible for implementing the idea, such as Al-Azhar’s grand sheikh, the grand mufti, the religious endowments minister, or a public figure such as Egyptian-American scientists Ahmed Zoweil and Farouk al-Baz.

He said the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, a legal expert and representatives from the Coptic Church, the People’s Assembly and the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics could lead the initiative.

The US has given Egypt an average of US$2 billion annually since 1979, most of which goes to the military.

But the US recently warned that aid might be cut after Egyptian authorities’ crackdown on local and foreign NGOs, which are accused of receiving illegal funding.

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