Cleric Calls American Aid to Egypt Tribute

Egyptian cleric says American aid is a mandatory tax

John Kerry with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi / AP
March 28, 2013

A prominent Egyptian cleric said U.S. aid to Egypt is a mandatory tribute that America must pay to honor the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian revolution.

This taxpayer aid constitutes a 'poll tax" that America must pay to placate the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Khaled Said, a cleric who serves as the official spokesman for the country’s Salafi Front, an extremist political party that has called for Islamic law in Egypt.

'They pay so that we will let them be," Said stated in a recent interview on Egyptian television.

Said's remarks come on the heels of Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement that the United States has allocated another $250 million in aid to Egypt.

'If the revolution declares a framework for dealing with the West and America – they will accept it, kiss our hands, and double the aid they give us," Said said during his television appearance, according to a translation of his remarks by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 'We consider this aid to be jizya [poll tax], not regular aid."

The United States is obligated to pay millions in aid, said Said, who frequently appears on Egyptian television toeing the radical Salafi line.

"The aid the Americans give us is the jizya tax they have to pay?" an interviewer asked.

"Yes, it is," Said replied. 'They pay it for the right of passage through our airspace and territorial waters."

'Is this the rhetoric of the revolution?" the interviewer asked

'It certainly is," Said responded.

Egypt has imposed this aid payment on America, Said said.

'We must strive to realize the goals of the revolution, and to establish a sovereign, Arab Islamic state in Egypt," he said. 'Then this state will impose payment of aid upon America as jizya, in exchange for allowing it to realize its interests—the ones that we approve, get it?

'They must pay reparations for destroying our country and the Islamic nation—them and others in the West—so that we will agree to cooperate with them," Said added.

"It's significant that this sheik is willing to say this publicly," said David Reaboi, vice president for strategic communications at the Center for Security Policy. "Maybe he's savvy enough to know US media, for the most part, is allergic to understanding or even presenting what's said in Islamic societies in their shariah or Muslim contexts."

The comments are important "because it's incomprehensible divorced of its meaning in Islamic law," Reaboi said. "In covering it at all, the media is forced to try to explain what he's saying in Islamic legal terms—something they've gone through great pains to both avoid and obfuscate. The sheik, communicating this to both his followers and the wider Islamic world, is heard very clearly."