Coptic Orthodox Christians attend a Palm Sunday mass at the Samaan el-Kharaz Monastery in the Mokattam Mountain area of Cairo, Egypt April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CIHRS joins call on Congress to support Christian minority rights in Egypt

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) joined a letter calling on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives to advance a bill on protecting the rights of the Coptic Christian minority in Egypt.  The bill has broad bi-partisan support.

The letter was presented by an informal group of 25 organizations and individuals, including researchers, religious leaders, secularists, and human rights defenders. The letter came prior to the meeting of the Congressional Sub-Committee for the Middle East and North Africa, during which there was to be a discussion regarding the bill's resolution.

It is worth noting that the Foreign Affairs Committee has recently held a hearing about the egregious human rights violations in Egypt,  which featured the testimony of Bahey El din Hassan, Director of CIHRS. He spoke about  how the Egyptian government retaliated against him for his human rights activities with a sentence of 15 years imprisonment. In this hearing, compelling evidence was presented by policy experts, as well as survivors of Egypt's worst crackdown in decades against civil society and the human rights community. From this standpoint, supporting the largest Christian minority in the Middle East will deliver a decisive message about accountability to the Egyptian government.

The Honorable Eliot Engel
Chairman
House Foreign Affairs Committee
United States House of Representatives
2426 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Theodore Deutch
House Foreign Affairs Committee
United States House of Representatives
2447 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Michael McCaul
Ranking Member
House Foreign Affairs Committee
United States House of Representatives
2001 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Joe Wilson House
Foreign Affairs Committee
United States House of Representatives
1436 Longworth HOB Washington,
DC 20515


Dear Chair Deutch,

We write as an informal group of 25 organizations and individuals - including scholars, religious and secular leaders, and human rights advocates and practitioners - who have joined our voices to respectfully urge that you bring H. RES. 49, Supporting Coptic Christians in Egypt to mark-up in the next MENA Subcommittee meeting. This resolution has strong bi-partisan support with 76 cosponsors

During the HFAC hearing hosted recently, Egypt: Trends in Politics, Economics, and Human Rights, damning evidence was presented by survivors and policy experts regarding the worst crackdown on civil society and human rights that Egypt has seen in decades. We believe that the passage of this resolution supporting the largest Christian minority in the Middle East would convey a critical message of accountability to the Egyptian government.

While the current crackdown in Egypt has impacted Egyptians of all political and religious persuasions, the Coptic community suffers the double injustice of not only living under systematic discrimination by the Egyptian government, but it also experiences attacks from neighbors and fellow countrymen who attack Copts and their properties with impunity. Coptic Solidarity has documented and published on these issues extensively, including this analysis of the most recent State Department’s Egypt chapter of the annual IRF report.

We previously wrote to you as a joint group of multi-faith NGOS and individuals, urging your action on behalf of imprisoned Coptic activist, Ramy Kamel, who continues to languish in prison for no other reason than creating awareness and advocating on behalf of persecuted Copts in Egypt. UN Special Rapporteurs have also published statements on his behalf acknowledging that his imprisonment is in retaliation for his human rights work and cooperation with the United Nations.

As the second largest recipient of US foreign aid, we believe that the Egyptian government must be held accountable for its human rights violations that are in clear opposition to American values of equality and religious liberty.

We urge you to mark-up H.RES. 49 before this session of Congress ends.

Respectfully,

Organizations:

  1. Center for Studies on New Religions
  2. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
  3. Coptic Solidarity
  4. Global Imams Council
  5. In Defense of Christians
  6. Institute for Global Engagement
  7. International Christian Concern
  8. Jubilee Campaign USA
  9. Middle East Forum
  10. Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church of America
  11. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  12. The Uyghur Human Rights Project
  13. 21Wilberforce

Individuals:

  1. Father John Anderson
    Saint John the Merciful Mission
  2. Hamid Gharagozloo
    The US Representative, International Organization to Preserve Human Rights
  3. Bishop Joseph K. Grieboski
    Senior Fellow, The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute
  4. Carl Herbster President, AdvanceUSA
  5. Lauren Homer
    President , Law and Liberty International
  6. Shannon Kroner
    Executive Director, Freedom of Religion - United Solutions
  1. Greg Mitchell
    Chair, International Religious Freedom Roundtable
  1. Scott Morgan
    President, Red Eagle Enterprises
  1. Daniel Pipes
    President, Middle East Forum
  1. Nina Shea
    Director, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom
  2. Imam Shaikh M. Tawhidi
  3. Susan Taylor
    National Public Affairs Director, Church of Scientology National Affairs Office

Photo: Coptic Orthodox Christians attend a Palm Sunday mass at the Samaan el-Kharaz Monastery in the Mokattam Mountain area of Cairo, Egypt April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

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