Members of President Trump’s evangelical advisory board have met with Egypt’s president to discuss his administration’s commitment to religious freedom for all Egyptians.
Christian author Joel Rosenberg organized the trip and was accompanied by Dr Michael Youssef from the Leading the Way ministry, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, religious freedom advocate Johnnie Moore and others on Wednesday at the Presidential Palace in Cairo.
Dr Youssef said he was “honoured to take part in a landmark event” and said it was the “first time in history, a leader of Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, met with American evangelical leaders”.
Writing on his site, he went on to say: “Our delegation wanted President el-Sisi and the Egyptian people to know that American evangelicals pray that Egypt would be prosperous and at peace. President el-Sisi warmly expressed his gratitude for our visit.
“Every member of this diverse group praised President el-Sisi for his wise and courageous handling of the crisis in Egypt during the anti-government protests of June 2013, leading to the overthrow of Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi.”
The meeting reflects a shift in US policy under President Trump as his predecessor, President Barack Obama, refused to invite Mr el-Sisi to the White House because of concerns about human rights violations.
The meeting lasted three hours and touched on matters ranging from terrorism and education to human rights, according to Johnnie Moore, a California pastor and public affairs executive who attended and served as a spokesman for Trump’s ad hoc board.
Dr Youssef said he was “grateful for the opportunity to meet President el-Sisi personally and shake his hand”.
He added: “With tears in my eyes, I told him how my wife and I had watched him on television from our home in Atlanta, Georgia, when he visited the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo on Christmas Eve 2015.
“I thanked him for his promise to rebuild Christian churches that had been destroyed in recent years.”
Dr Youssef urged Christians to pray for both Egypt and its leader.
He said: “Near the end of our time together, I told President el-Sisi that I believed he was God’s gift, not only to Egypt and the region, but to the world.
“I assured him that every peace-loving Christian was praying that God would protect and bless President el-Sisi, and give wisdom to him and everyone in leadership throughout Egypt.”
The Egyptian president has repeatedly stressed his commitment to ensuring Muslims and Christians are treated equally under the law, amid a spate of murders of Coptic believers.