A call to end nonstop targeting of Egypt's Copts

Thursday, May 28, 2020
 | 
Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)

Coptic Christian church in Egypt

Indigenous Coptic Christians in Egypt are suffering the worst crackdown on religious freedom and civil liberties in decades – and the persecution inflicted by both society and the government continues to increase.

Coptic Solidarity is a U.S.-based watchdog organization that advocates for equal citizenship for Egypt's Coptic Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. The group says even though international leaders continually laud Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's government for its rhetorical gestures toward the Copts, an overwhelming majority of the general population in Egypt and around the world are well aware of the incessant targeting of Coptic Christians – greater than anything that has been seen in decades.

Missing but not missed?

Numerous abductions of Coptics have been reported of late, yet local authorities show little interest in finding them or bringing their abductors to justice.

"At least five Coptic women – including some minors – have reportedly been kidnapped or disappeared in just the last few weeks, and Egyptian state security has made no concerted effort to recover them," Christian Solidarity reports.

Even though the ministry publicized the kidnapping of Ranya Add al-Masih – a Coptic wife and mother of three from north of Cairo – which also drew protests, including ones from the area's church, she is still missing.

"[We lament over] the total lack of reaction by authorities," the regional Coptic church states, according to Coptic Solidarity, which noted that one of the missing women's brothers filed a missing persons report. It was met by the typical unresponsiveness by police.

Targets of abuse

Copts have been targeted in violent ways, as well, with the judicial system doing little to nothing to punish attackers.

"The public prosecution acquitted the attacker of Mrs. Catherine Ramzi," Coptic Solidarity states. "While she was returning home with groceries on January 12 of this year, he grabbed her hair and sliced her neck open in an effort to slaughter her."

While Mrs. Ramzi fortunately survived the attack, says the ministry, "the perpetrator was just 'acquitted,' on claims that he was suffering from a mental condition – an all too common tactic relied on by the Egyptian judicial system to acquit those who persecute Copts – despite all the evidence that it was a hate crime."

A couple weeks ago, a security camera caught an air conditioning technician throwing a Molotov cocktail inside the Virgin Mary Church in Alexandria, Egypt, but it appears nothing will be done – again.

"Predictably … the prosecutors appear to be pursing an acquittal on the claim that the perpetrator of the religious hate crime is also mentally ill," the nonprofit group reports. "Based on precedent, it is extremely unlikely that this perpetrator will face any consequences for his attempt to torch a church."

The government also has its hand in persecuting Copts, the ministry alleges.

"The authorities themselves have recently demolished another church building in Beheira governorate for being built 'without authorization' – this despite its being in place for over 10 years and applying for regularization, according to the new and much touted Churches Law," Christian Solidarity reports. "The priest and a number of Copts were further beaten by the accompanying police force, numbering no less than 200."

And with the Egyptian government routinely imprisoning those for speaking against the administration, journalists have been singled out and arrested – including Sameh Hanein, a Copt – for exposing the mistreatment of his fellow believers.

"Hanein … was – ironically – accused of 'assisting a terror organization,' an absurd charge against a Copt whose real 'crime' was to report on the persecution of his coreligionists," the Christian group points out.

Coptic Solidarity is calling on Egyptian leadership to end its lip service about protections for Copts, which is given as a façade for its own benefit.

"The government of President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi is merely making minimal cosmetic changes to appease Western supporters and maintain foreign aid," the ministry contends.

According to Coptic Solidarity, its efforts to document "systematic and systemic discrimination" in Egypt that relegates the Copts to second-class citizenship thus far have been in vain.

"Western government officials and diplomats have been only all too eager to lap up rhetorical gestures, superficial actions and fruitless discourse – rather than to assess the overall situation of Copts and other religious minorities in Egypt," the ministry laments.

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