March 15, 2012 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 811

Crisis between Egypt, U.S. Deepens over American Funding to Civil Society Organizations – Part III: Egyptian Press Attacks U.S. Ambassador to Cairo Anne Patterson

March 15, 2012 | By L. Lavi and N. Shamni*
Egypt | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 811


Since her appointment as U.S. ambassador to Cairo in March 2011, Anne Patterson has been the target of numerous attacks in the Egyptian press. The campaign against her was stepped up following her declaration, at her nomination hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in June of that year, that the U.S. had channeled some $40 million to civil society organizations in Egypt with the aim of advancing democracy in the country. Indeed, the issue of foreign funding of civil society organizations ultimately led to a crisis in U.S.-Egypt relations.[1]

The Egyptian media has portrayed Patterson as solely serving U.S. interests in the region, such as Egyptian dependence on foreign aid at the expense of the Egyptian people and Israel's security. One accusation against her is that she has ensured these interests by curbing the Islamic movements, as she allegedly did in Pakistan during her previous mission by being behind various political assassinations. Patterson has also been accused of intimidating the Egyptian media and aspiring to establish alternative media outlets.

Furthermore, the Egyptian media said that she had been working to hamper democratization and the establishment of a stable civil regime in Egypt, to sow anarchy, and to thwart the revolution – as allegedly revealed by her interference in Egyptian justice in the foreign funding affair.

An Alexandria attorney even filed a motion to expel Patterson from Egypt, claiming that she had neglected her duties by failing to deliver the Americans implicated in the foreign funding case to the Egyptian authorities, sheltering them at the U.S. Embassy. Likewise, Tawfiq Okasha, Egyptian presidential candidate and owner of Al-Faraeen TV, called for mass protests on March 9, 2012 to demand her expulsion from the country. Protests did indeed take place outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on that date, and it was reported that the following day, Patterson left the country for Washington.

Following are examples from the campaign waged by the Egyptian media against Patterson:

Al-Wafd Party Mouthpiece: "Patterson – Hell's Ambassador to Egypt"

Immediately after Patterson took up her post, the Al-Wafd Party newspaper published an article titled "Anne Patterson – Hell's Ambassador to Egypt," by Ruqayya 'Antar, that stated: "[T]he name of Margaret Scobey's replacement at the U.S. ambassadorial palace in [Cairo's] Garden City caused great consternation among the youth of the revolution, and stirred up a flurry of criticism among human rights activists regarding the U.S.'s intentions vis-à-vis Egypt and the revolution. Everyone felt that the name Anne Patterson did not bode well. The new ambassador has a black record implicating her in planning and overseeing the assassinations of known political figures, during her stints in Columbia and Pakistan – so much so that her confirmation as [ambassador to] Egypt at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was described as 'an American plot to assassinate known figures [in Egypt].'"

Anne Patterson depicted as Hell's ambassador to Egypt[2]

The article continued: "The Revolution Youth Union issued a harsh communiqué opposing Anne Patterson's appointment as ambassador to replace Margaret Scobey. In it, it accuses the U.S. administration of conspiring to thwart the revolution and the democratic process. The Revolution Youth Union has warned against some kind of American attack on the revolution and the national project, and has demanded that all national forces, General Tantawi, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces reject Anne Patterson's letter of credentials and foil any attempt to harm the revolution or Egypt's security and stability..."[3]

The mention of Patterson's service in Pakistan drew on Wikileaks publications circulated in the Pakistani media, according to which Patterson was the U.S. administration's linchpin in implementing assassinations in several developing countries, and in establishing alternative media in order to destabilize those countries and plunge them into chaos.

Patterson in uniform, giving orders[4]

Muhammad 'Allam, head of the Operational Bureau of the Revolution Youth Union, went so far as to claim that Patterson had been appointed ambassador to Cairo in order to implement plans to assassinate important political figures in Egypt, chiefly former prime minister 'Essam Sharaf.

Cover page of the Egyptian government weekly
October: "The Back Doors of American Aid"[5]

The Al-Wafd article also included statements by Nidhal Saqr, whom it described as a member of the advisory board at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.[6] Saqr described Anne Patterson as "the symbol of American arrogance, who acts condescendingly and harshly towards anyone who opposes or criticizes American policy," while "granting immunity to all those with a security pact with the U.S. embassy."[7]

MB Official: In Egypt, the Ambassador Will Continue the Crimes She Began in Pakistan

The campaign against Patterson mounted as U.S.-Egypt relations deteriorated over the civil society funding case. In a February 15, 2012 article published on the Muslim Brotherhood's (MB) official website, MB Deputy General Guide Dr. Rashad Bayoumi wrote: "With the appearance of the first signs of freedom in the Arab and Muslim societies, schemes were hatched, and [U.S.] Ambassador [to Egypt Anne Patterson], whose wretched past includes the crimes she committed in Pakistan, was appointed [to oversee these schemes], bent on bringing the fitna in Egypt to completion... Funds were funneled to several associations wrongly called human rights and civil society organizations – until the truth was exposed, along with the abominable intent to spark the fire of fitna. It remains to be revealed what is behind these millions spent on dubious activities... America's threats to cut the cumbersome and tainted aid that [only] limits our freedoms do not frighten us. We hope that the people as a whole will reject this humiliating gift, and will rally around a will not to rely on it, but to meet its own needs..."[8]

Egyptian Media Personalities: Patterson Committed "Media Terrorism"

The Egyptian daily Al-Dustour ran an extensive article on Anne Patterson's activity, interviewing media personalities who claimed that Patterson had employed "media terrorism" by filing a complaint against Dream TV anchorman Wael Al-Abrashi. According to the article, Patterson had accused Al-Abrashi of inciting the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo by calling the U.S. the "Great Satan." Al-Abrashi had made the remark on his TV program during a discussion with the Egyptian Revolutionary Guard over whether they intended to carry out such a plan on January 25, 2012.[9]

In response to Patterson's charge, Al-Abrashi said that she was merely angry that he had exposed the real reason for her appointment as ambassador to Cairo – that reason being the proficiency and wealth of experience she had acquired during her lengthy stint in Pakistan, where she learned how to deal with Islamic streams and curb their activities in the service of U.S. interests.[10]

Patterson Is Responsible for Foreign Funding Affair

Al-Dustour cited experts on the U.S. who discussed Patterson's skill in curbing the activities of Islamic groups, and said she had also proved "an expert in restraining [the Egyptian] military" in effecting the exit of American defendants from Egypt in the middle of their trial.

The daily also claimed that it was Patterson's comments at her nomination hearing that sparked the crisis over American funding to civil society organizations. It suggested that she was sowing schism in Egypt by "spreading the virus of treason among Egyptians with political deviousness," such that "everyone sees these organizations as agents of foreign countries, or at the very least, organizations funded by the West."

Bilal Diab, spokesman for the Free Front for Peaceful Change, told Al-Dustour: "It is possible that Patterson arrived from Pakistan specifically to secure ongoing U.S. interests [that, in the past, were protected] by tyrannical regimes in the Middle East, at the expense of the Arab peoples..."[11]

Cover page of October weekly: "Hell's Ambassador Sets Al-Tahrir [Square] on Fire"[12]

Patterson Interfered with Egyptian Justice

The Al-Dustour article also quoted Ashraf Al-'Ashmawi, one of the investigators in the foreign funding case, who claimed that Patterson had interfered with the work of the Egyptian justice system by sending a letter to the Egyptian Justice Ministry demanding that the Americans implicated in the case be allowed to leave Egypt. According to Al-'Ashmawi, this letter was unlawful because Patterson was not a side in the case.

Al-Dustour went on to say that Patterson had, in fact, played a major role in the resignation of the panel of judges presiding over the case, who it said had withdrawn from the case under political pressure to revoke the movement restrictions imposed on the American defendants. Subsequently, Ahmad S'adawi, a leading human rights activist, filed a complaint against Patterson with Egypt's attorney general over what he claimed was her interference in the country's domestic affairs.[13]

Cover page of October weekly: "The Gavel Comes Down on Dubious American Funding"[14]

A Motion to Expel the Ambassador

Tareq Mahmoud, an Alexandria attorney went even further, submitting a motion demanding that Patterson be expelled from Egypt for "her unacceptable interference in [Egypt's] domestic affairs, and for harming Egyptian sovereignty." Mahmoud said that the numerous meetings the ambassador had held since assuming office, both at the U.S. Embassy and elsewhere – such as with Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Muhammad Badi,' Al-Azhar Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, and various Salafi party representatives – were meant to deepen the internal schism in post-revolutionary Egypt.

Mahmoud called Patterson's presence in the country a grave danger to the honor and sovereignty of Egypt, and claimed that she had violated international law and custom by granting asylum to the American defendants in the civil society organization foreign funding case, rather than turning them over to the Egyptian authorities. For all these reasons, he said, she must be expelled from Egypt.[15]

Protestors Demand Patterson's Expulsion

Similarly, Tawfiq Okasha, Egyptian presidential candidate and owner of Al-Faraeen TV, called for mass protests on March 9, 2012, demanding that the ambassador be expelled.[16] His call was answered when dozens of protestors[17] – or, according to a March 11 Al-Faraeen TV report, 3,500-4,000 protestors – gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on that date.

In the Al-Faraeen report (to view the clip on MEMRI TV, visit, the correspondent began by saying, against the backdrop of footage from the demonstration: "The determination of the Egyptian people erupted yesterday, in order to express their objection to the presence of the U.S. ambassador on Egyptian soil, and to demand that she be expelled, and that the U.S. diplomatic delegation be cut in half. Three thousand five hundred to 4,000 citizens from all walks of life gathered to demonstrate... The masses carried journalist Dr. Tawfiq Okasha on their shoulders, and lifted him onto the stage of this million-man demonstration. The masses kept calling: Our souls and our blood we will give to you, Okasha." (Crowd calls, "Our souls and our blood we will give to you, Okasha, our souls and our blood we will give to you, Okasha.")

The reporter went on to quote Okasha's statements at the protest: "[Okasha said,] We have come today to stand opposite the U.S. Embassy, in order to send the following message to the American people: The various U.S. administrations, as well as U.S. intelligence and the State Department, provide you with a comfortable life and with a high average income, at the expense of the corpses of other peoples. If you agree to live your lives at the expense of the corpses of other peoples, you shall be our sworn enemy as of today, but if you refuse to live your lives at the expense of the corpses of other peoples, you shall be our most important friend. The choice is yours. We've come today to stress our demand for the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador, the enemy of humanity and the enemy of human rights, who bathes in a sea of the blood of others, while claiming that it is not so."

The reporter continued: "On behalf of the demonstrating masses, [Okasha] gave the U.S. ambassador three days, from Saturday to Tuesday morning, to leave the country and to cut the U.S. diplomatic delegation by half... The masses called 'Down with the U.S. ambassador' and 'Down with America.' In addition, they shouted enthusiastically: "Down with the Muslim Brotherhood'" – a refrain that was heard "for more than five minutes." (Crowd: "Down with the Muslim Brotherhood!")

A protestor said: "When helpless, turn to Allah for support. Oh Allah, do not leave upon the land of America any inhabitant from among the infidels. If you let them be, they will beget only adulterers and infidels." Beginning to weep, he continued: "Oh Allah, send them earthquakes, send them volcanoes. Send them volcanoes, oh Most Merciful. Oh Allah, send them a powerful earthquake... Oh Allah, the Muslims have a God protecting them. Protect us, Lord. Send them an earthquake. Oh God, I am helpless. Oh God, I am helpless, support me. Where is the support you promised us, God? Where is the support you promised us, God? Where is the support you promised us, God? Allah, we are weak believers... Unleash upon them volcanoes, Ababil birds, and earthquakes. Allah, send an earthquake against these people, who throw Muslims into the sea."

He added, "Obama, you will not enter Paradise before a camel passes through the eye of a needle. By Allah, you will not enter Paradise, Obama, before a camel passes through the eye of a needle. You renounced the Prophet Muhammad."

The reporter asked another protestor: "We've heard that you have a message for the American people. What does it say?" He replied: "We say to the American people: Dear free American people: We know that you love the Egyptian people and its culture. Therefore, you should stand by our side in preventing your leaders from dividing Egypt and the Arab countries. With all our best regards. Thank you."[18]

The following day Patterson left the country for Washington via Germany.[19]

*L. Lavi & N. Shamni are research fellows at MEMRI.


[1] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 765, "In Egypt, Official Campaign against Foreign Funding of Civil Society Organizations Sparks Controversy, Crisis with U.S.," November 23, 2011, In Egypt, Official Campaign against Foreign Funding of Civil Society Organizations Sparks Controversy, Crisis with U.S.; Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.795, "Crisis between Egypt, U.S. Deepens over American Funding to Civil Society Organizations," February 8, 2012, Crisis between Egypt, U.S. Deepens over American Funding to Civil Society Organizations; MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 804, "Crisis Between Egypt, U.S. Deepens over American Funding to Civil Society Organizations – Part II: The Islamists Join the Government/SCAF Campaign against the U.S.," February 24, 2012, Crisis between Egypt, U.S. Deepens over American Funding to Civil Society Organizations – Part II: The Islamists Join the Government/SCAF Campaign against the U.S..

[4] October (Egypt), February 5, 2012.

[5] October (Egypt), August 21, 2011.

[6] It should be noted that the title which Al-Wafd attributes to Nidhal Saqr is inaccurate. According to available information, Saqr is no longer a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, though he apparently was from 2002 to 2006.

[7] Al-Wafd (Egypt), July 7, 2011.

[8], February 15, 2012.

[9] See MEMRI JTTM Report No. 4413, "'Egyptian Revolutionary Guard' Threatens to Attack U.S. Embassy," January 9, 2012,

[10] Al-Dustour (Egypt), March 2, 2012.

[11] Al-Dustour (Egypt), March 2, 2012.

[12] October (Egypt), July 31, 2011.

[13] Al-Dustour (Egypt), March 2, 2012.

[14] October (Egypt), January 1, 2012.

[15] Al-Wafd (Egypt), February 18, 2012.

[16] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), March 2, 2012.

[17] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 11, 2012.

[18] MEMRI TV Clip No. 3362, Egyptian Presidential Candidate Tawfiq Okasha, in Demonstration Outside U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Calls For Expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson, the "Enemy of Humanity" Who "Bathes in a Sea of the Blood of Others," Al-Faraeen TV (Egypt), March 11, 2012

[19] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 11, 2012.

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