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US Lawmakers Condemn Egypt Attacks

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved resolutions dealing with democratic progress in Iraq, and the recent terrorist attacks in Egypt.

While dealing with major trade legislation, the House also turned its attention to the situation in the Middle East, in two resolutions dealing with Iraq and Egypt.

Following on statements by individual members of Congress, a resolution approved by the House condemns the recent terrorist bombings in the Egyptian Red Sea city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is chairm an of the House Middle East Subcommittee.

"Despite our differences with certain policies pursued by the government of Egypt, the killing of innocents must be strongly condemned," she said. "And we stand ready to support Egyptian authorities in bringing to justice those responsible for the recent attacks. We must unite with the government and people of Egypt to help fight a common enemy."

The resolution also recalls the kidnapping and slaying by terrorists of Egypt's ambassador to Iraq, an issue addressed by California Democrat Tom Lantos.

"This courageous diplomat was to have been the first Arab ambassador accredited to the newly-liberated Iraq. And his murder is a tragedy for all decent people," said Mr. Lantos.

A separate resolution approved by the House encourages Iraq's Transitional National Assembly to adopt a constitution granting women equal rights.

There is concern in Congress about reported steps in Iraq that might roll back the advances women have made since the ouster of Saddam Hussein by U.S. and coalition military forces.

Texas Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger says Iraqis must reinforce democracy now being built with laws that respect the rights of all citizens.

"History will record that Saddam got what he deserved. The question is, will Iraqi women get what they deserve, what they have earned, what they demand?" she asked.

Congresswoman Granger adds that American soldiers in Iraq have not sacrificed so much or persevered so long to, in her words, see the tyranny of an awful dictator replaced by the tyranny of legal oppression for women.

New York Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who is a member of the congressional Iraqi Women's Caucus, is among those worried about the impact Islamic law in Iraq could have on women's rights:

"Under Sharia, women will lose many of the rights that they already have," she explained. "As one of them said to me, and I quote, 'It is horrible. We are concerned. You must do something. The time is now.'"

Congress is watching the Iraqi constitution process closely as the country's assembly moves toward an expected October vote on a final draft due to be completed next month.

Among U.S. lawmakers who have traveled to Iraq to meet with Iraqi officials on the constitution issue is Republican Christopher Shays, who just returned from his ninth visit.

"The message is that when you cut out half of your [population] you are not going to prosper and grow. So it is in the self-interest of every man, woman and child in Iraq to make sure that women have an equal role in the activities of their country," said Mr. Shays.

The resolutions on Iraq and Egypt were approved as part of a busy legislative agenda in the House of Representatives, which is approaching a long summer break.