Coptic Solidarity Urges State Department to Name Egypt a ‘Country of Particular Concern’
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) latest annual report, once again includes Egypt as a ‘Country of Particular Concern,’ or CPC for ongoing, systematic, and egregious violations of religious freedom.
The overall situation for religious minorities in Egypt further deteriorated under the Morsi administration. There have been a large and sustained number of attacks against Coptic Christians and their properties perpetrated with virtual impunity. The situation impacts all members of minority faiths. The US State Department has not demonstrated real commitment to defending women, religious minorities and political dissidents in Egypt through continued verbal and financial support of the Morsi government.
Despite the removal of the Emergency Law, long used to suppress dissent, the Morsi government has found other ways to achieve the same results. Egypt’s new constitution was pushed through by the Muslim Brotherhood without consensus and with very little support from the Egyptian people, demonstrated by the fact that only one fifth of eligible voters endorsed it. Non-Islamists and religious minorities withdrew from the Constituent Assembly as Islamists had hijacked the process.
Accusations of ‘defaming’ religion (i.e. Islam) multiplied and several Copts have been harshly sentenced on flimsy charges while several journalists were prosecuted merely for expressing their own views. Conversion to Islam is encouraged, but conversion away from Islam is considered blasphemous and the government will not reflect this change on individuals’ ID cards, which impacts myriad areas of life including marriage, education, inheritance rights and more. Indicating judiciary bias, parents of a Coptic man were recently imprisoned after he was accused of “helping” a Muslim woman to convert and leave the country to get married. Only Judaism and Christianity are recognized beside Islam. Thus members of other minorities such as Baha’i have no official standing and experience great discrimination in education and employment.
USCIRF first included Egypt in their recommendations for CPC status to the State Department in 2011. The State Department is directed to make annual CPC designations, yet has not always done this. In addition, it has continued to list the same religious freedom violators without adding new countries to the list.
Coptic Solidarity urges the State Department in the strongest terms to include Egypt in their CPC designations in 2013. Adel Guindy, President of Coptic Solidarity states, “It is high time for the US government to demonstrate their commitment to religious freedom, democracy, and women’s rights for all Egyptians. By designating Egypt as a CPC, the US government would regain some credibility in the region as a nation that upholds the values of religious freedom and equity for all people. This needs to be reflected in US foreign policy.” Furthermore, Coptic Solidarity welcomes and endorses the USCIRF recommendations regarding Egypt.
Coptic Solidarity (www.copticsolidarity.org) is non-profit organization dedicated to leading efforts to achieve equal citizenship for the Copts in Egypt. For more information, contact Hal Meawad at firstname.lastname@example.org.