U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, who was recently criticized for saying the national debate over birth control coverage is "not about women," issued a statement Friday calling on President Barack Obama to "distance himself" from the Muslim Brotherhood.
The statement comes after the Egyptian political group met with "mid-level officials from the U.S. National Security Agency" on Thursday, Voice of America reports. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended the meetings, saying that the administration is meeting with many political groups as Egypt's "political sitiuation evolves" following President Hosni Mubarak departure.
"I call on the President not to meet with or recognize groups that do not respect women's rights and basic freedoms," Walsh said in a statement, adding that the group has one of the "worst women's rights records in the Middle East."
During a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing in February, Walsh told the all-male panel that President Obama's plan to eliminate co-pays for birth control was an attack on religious freedom, and not about women's health. He mentioned the backlash he received for those comments in his Friday statement.
"It's disappointing that an Administration - which continues to use inflammatory rhetoric against Republicans by using terms such as 'War on Women' - would meet with the Muslim Brotherhood," Walsh said. "This is a group that would be happy to see women's rights returned to the Stone Age."
Carney told Voice of America that despite the Muslim Brotherhood's record, they assured U.S. officials that they were committed to democracy and civil rights.
Walsh, who is hoping to keep his congressional seat, has been criticized by women's groups and his Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth for his views on abortion, birth control and women's rights. His statement Friday was an attempt to turn the tables on Democrats.
"The President is sending an unclear message," Walsh said. "Just this week he felt the need to speak out against women not being admitted into Augusta National, but a day later is meeting with a group that discriminates against women. Which is it?"
GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum has also criticized the Obama administration's relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing the president of a willingness to "jump in bed" with the group during conflicts in Libya and Egypt.
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