A campaign to get Coptic Christians to register and vote in the 2020 election and identify in the United States Census was launched last week … as their population passes half a million.
"Copt the Vote" seeks to give Copts a bigger voice and make them more politically active in the U.S. so they are no longer underrepresented. The 2010 U.S. Census indicated that only 92,000 Copts live in the U.S., but if more are officially counted, American policy makers can better work to help their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in Egypt.
"Having an accurate census would greatly empower diaspora Copts to make their voices heard in U.S. policy, including on behalf of Copts in Egypt who currently live as second-class citizens – if not persecuted citizens," explains Coptic Solidarity, which is spearheading the effort.
Copts and religious freedom robbers in Egypt
After former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's 1952 coup, large numbers of Copts began immigrating to the U.S. as their religious liberty began diminishing in Egypt.
"Nasser's promotion of Arab nationalism quickly resulted in suppression of the Copts' role in society and an increase in persecution from Muslims," the Coptic Solidarity release states. "Copts continued to immigrate ever since, as they – indeed most Egyptians – had little opportunity to engage politically … the residual effects of which were to breed apathy amongst diaspora Copts."
Being immersed in the cares of resettling in America, little assistance has been given to Copts still living in Egypt.
"Political freedom and mobilization for Copts appears a bleak prospect in Egypt, [as] they are now under one of the most severe authoritarian crackdowns on political opposition, civil rights, human rights and against any individual who dares criticize [current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi's government," the release continues.
"One need only consider the plight of Coptic activist Ramy Kamel, who has now been imprisoned for more than 80 days, merely for documenting abuses against Copts and sharing them with U.N. Special Commissioners and on his blog."
Because the persecution of Christians in Egypt has intensified in recent years, only recent immigrants fully realize the degree of danger faced by those remaining in Egypt.
"Only very recent immigrants can speak accurately of true conditions for Copts in Egypt, the level of hatred and the increasingly common attacks on and murders of Copts," Coptic Solidarity recounts. "Younger generations – many of which were born in America and raised with the values of a representative democracy – are more interested in social issues and activism."
Flourishing in freedom
Once free and in America, Copts excel.
"Copts in the U.S. have achieved incredible success academically and professionally, such as Golden Globe winner, Rami Malek, and businesswoman and former member of the presidential administration, Dina Powell," the Christian ministry pointed out. "Copts in the U.S. demonstrate the heights to which Copts can soar when not living under systematic discrimination and persecution as they do in Egypt."
With Copts' proven success in education and politics, Coptic Solidarity president Caroline Doss, Esq. urges the entire community to become more engaged.
"Make your voice count and go vote," Doss urges American Copts. "Become politically active – our people in Egypt need you."
Her group is partnering with local communities to host voter registration events. To get more Copts involved, Coptic Solidarity – a nonpartisan nonprofit organization – is using Rock the Vote's resources and registration forms to advocate equal citizenship rights for Copts in Egypt.