Egypt’s president has defended Donald Trump’s proposal to set up a database of Muslims, arguing it would ensure “security and stability”.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in an interview with the Portuguese TV network RTP that fundamentalist ideology was the biggest threat in the world and that it prompted Trump to suggest that Muslims living in the US be required to register.
During his campaign, Trump variously called for banning all Muslim visitors to the US, subjecting those in the country to loyalty tests and even for some to be deported.
“All of the comments that Trump made during his presidential campaign were formed based on many views, however, in my opinion we need to wait until the president-elect takes office,” Sisi said.
“We are going to see very good things from the new US president.”
Asked if as the president of Muslim country he was concerned about the proposed registry, Sisi said he understood Trump’s motives.
“Every country tries to ensure security and stability for its people, and we understand that.”
Sisi was the first world leader to call Trump and congratulate him for winning the US presidential elections in his 8 November shock victory.
In the interview, Sisi also expressed support for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military in remarks likely to anger Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab allies who back Syrian rebels in the civil war.
He said that Syrian government forces were best positioned to combat terrorism and restore stability in the war-torn nation.
Asked if he would send Egyptian peacekeepers to Syria under a peace deal, Sisi said that “it is better that the national army take responsibility” and that his priority is to “support the national army” of Syria.
Cairo and Riyadh are at odds over the war in Syria. Egypt’s regime angered its top financial backer – Saudi Arabia – last month, when it backed both Russian and French draft resolutions on Syria at the UN Security Council.
Assad has said that that Trump will be a “natural ally” if the US president-elect fulfils his pledge to fight “terrorists”.
[This article was originally published on The New Arab and reproduced here with permission.]