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Why is Trump sending Michele Bachmann to meet Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi?

Alex Wong/Getty Images

You may have been wondering what happened to Trump’s evangelical advisers. They’ve been relatively quiet recently, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been idle. In fact, they recently took a Magic School Bus to Egypt, where they got to learn about the pyramids and the virtues of military juntas from Sisi himself.

The Washington Post helpfully provides a class roster:

American evangelical attendees, according to a photo of the event, were Joel Rosenberg, an American writer who lives in Jerusalem; retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence in the second Bush administration; Family Research Council President Tony Perkins; San Diego pastor Jim Garlow; Florida pastor Mario Bramnick; Middle East commentator Michael Evans; communications executive Larry Ross; political activist Robert Vander Plaats; Campus Crusade for Christ Global Leadership Vice President Dela Adadevoh; former representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.); Egyptian-American Atlanta pastor Michael Youssef; and [pastor Johnnie] Moore.

This is quite a list! A Who’s Who of the most reactionary evangelicals in America. Though they do have reason to take interest in Egyptian affairs—the plight of the Copts is an international disgrace—Donald Trump’s enthusiastic praise for Sisi and other strongmen means the meeting is cause for concern. Indeed, his advisers appeared to praise Sisi for his religious tolerance. It is true that Copts have fared somewhat better under Sisi, but as Johannes Makar noted for Foreign Policy in 2016, extremists still subject Copts to brutal sectarian violence, and are rarely caught. And a recent law further inflamed religious tensions. “As Human Rights Watch argues, the law reinforces the authorities’ control and contains security provisions that risk subjecting decisions on church construction to the whims of violent mobs,” Makar explains.

Perhaps the Trump administration hoped to convince Sisi to demonstrate greater tolerance. But if that’s the case, they should’ve sent a better team. Instead, they sent extremists whose Israel policy is literally based on the idea that Armageddon will take place there.