President Donald Trump welcomed an Egyptian-American aid worker back to the U.S. alongside not first lady Melania Trump, but first daughter Ivanka Trump — once again provoking controversy.
Humanitarian Aya Hijazi, a dual U.S.-Egyptian citizen raised in Virginia, had spent three years in prison in Egypt on human trafficking and child abuse charges before the Trump administration won her release on April 18.
Hijazi, 30, was a nongovernmental organization owner working with Egyptian street children when she was thrown in jail on the “bogus” charges.
She returned to the U.S. on April 20, and met with Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, at the White House on April 21.
“We are very happy to have Aya back home and it’s a great honor to have her in the Oval Office with her brother and thank you very much,” Trump said.
The meeting raised eyebrows, causing some to wonder why just Ivanka — and not Melania — greeted Hijazi.
“Mrs. Trump should have been there with her husband,” commented one user on the Daily Mail’s website.
It’s just one of the many times Melania has been chided for not performing “as well” as her first lady predecessors.
From being a no-show when the president announced Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, to not showing up to pay respects to the body of a slain Navy SEAL, the first lady has been absent on several important occasions.
Some criticize Melania, saying she is costing taxpayers much, but doing little in return. She has been living in Trump Tower in New York City while the couple’s 11-year-old son, Barron, finishes the school year.
“Your adopted nation needs you,” writes the Miami Herald Editorial board, echoing the sentiments of many. “Your days as a hard-working immigrant (yes, modeling is a job) are not over, not now that you’re first lady. You need to be one of those immigrants who, like so many others whom you husband, unfortunately, has made frown, makes a contribution to this gonna-be-great-again nation.”
But not everyone has bad things to day about Melania for her lack of political involvement. Some defend her.
“That’s only a problem if you think a woman should put her life on hold to take a job as her husband’s helpmate,” writes Raina Lipsitz for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Melania, in her own words, ‘chose not to go into politics and policy.’ If she’s not interested in wielding political influence, why should she give up her life to become a Real Housewife of D.C.? Especially, as The New York Times recently noted, for an unpaid job?”