House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. says America's top priority in Egypt should be stopping the spread of radical Islam.
At a news conference Tuesday, Cantor refrained from criticizing President Obama's handling of the two-week- old crisis and said he hopes the protests lead to a democratic society.
Asked about criticism leveled recently by another Republican lawmaker, Cantor said, it would not be "helpful for this president, who is having a tough enough time as it is, to have 535 members of Congress to opine on his conduct of foreign policy."
"The future of Egypt will be determined by its people. It's also clear that there needs to be a transition process that begins now. That transition must initiate a process that respects the universal rights of the Egyptian people and that leads to free and fair elections," the president said late last week.
Religious freedom advocates warn that elections in Egypt could bring Islamic fundamentalists to power.
Cantor is Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel, whose leaders have been watching events unfold in Egypt with apprehension.
Asked whether Cantor's remarks stemmed at least in part from his position on Israel, Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said the majority leader "has consistently made clear that the expansion of radical Islam is a global danger and is bad for America and our allies."
Paul Marshall, a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, a nonpartisan policy research organization, says the U.S. should press Egypt's government to give Christians the same rights as Muslims.