Last Update 19:16
Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Recurrent attacks on Copts has Egypt slated for US religious freedom blacklist

An advisory body to the US State Department has called for Egypt, among other countries, to put on a blacklist for curtailing religious freedoms

AFP, Thursday 28 Apr 2011
Views: 4228
Views: 4228

A US commission called Thursday for Egypt to be put on a blacklist for lack of religious freedom, saying attacks on Coptic Christians and other minorities have worsened despite political changes.

In its annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom voiced concern about what it saw as serious violations in a number of countries, including China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

The commission, an autonomous advisory board, added Egypt to its recommended list of "countries of particular concern" on matters of religious freedom, a designation that can carry economic sanctions unless governments address US concerns.

But the US State Department has ultimate authority to put or leave off nations on the list and, to the commission's chagrin, President Barack Obama has not designated any additional countries of particular concern since taking office in 2009.

Leonard Leo, the chair of the commission, said that Egypt experienced "severe religious freedom violations" both before and after the mass protests that forced out longtime president Hosni Mubarak in February.

"Not everything in Egypt has changed. Violence against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities continues unabated without the government bringing the perpetrators to justice," Leo said.

Christians, who make up 10 per cent of Egypt's population of 80 million, have been the target of several recent attacks and repeatedly accused authorities of systematic discrimination. In Alexandria, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a church as worshippers emerged from a New York's Eve mass, killing 23 people.

The State Department lists eight countries of particular concern on religious freedom matters: China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. Most have rocky ties with the United States.

The commission again asked the State Department to add Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam to the list. Besides Egypt, the recommendations were the same as the last annual report in 2010.

In China, the commission said that authorities severely curtailed the freedoms of Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims and stepped up efforts to discredit and imprison leaders of various faiths.

In the past year, China detained more than 500 Protestants and kept in custody dozens of Catholic clergy for not registering with the government, the commission said, adding that China had also destroyed Christian meeting points.

The board reported severe mistreatment of the Falungong, a spiritual movement banned by China in 1999, saying that practitioners were "tortured and mistreated in detention".

The commission said that religious freedom was also deteriorating in Iran, especially for minorities such as the Bahai — a faith founded in the country in the 19th century that is considered heretical by the Shia clerical regime.

Recognised minorities — Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians — also suffered worsening treatment, and even members of the Shia majority came under pressure if they dissented from the official line, the commission said.

The report said Saudi Arabia's record improved slightly but it still committed "systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom".

Among countries recommended to be put on the blacklist, the commission voiced deep concern about Pakistan, where Punjab's governor Salman Taseer and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated this year.

The two had advocated reforms to Pakistan's blasphemy laws. The commission said the laws had contributed to an "atmosphere of violent extremism and vigilantism" against minorities, including the Ahmadiya Muslim sect.

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

28-04-2011 06:46pm
Religious freedom in Egypt
In Egypt, officials can not go far with religious freedom, because it is not simply a muslim against a christian. Rather, the constitution itself prescribes that Islamic law is the source of law. The other issue, officials in Egypt are scared of terrorists retaliating for treating christians as equal-example, Sadat was killed because of the peace treaty. I would like to add, also, that Christians are much more that 10% of the population-I think close to 20%. maybe Copts only are 10% and that is still an understatement. Many are not documented, since because of illiteracy they do not have the proper ID's. Daily life in Egypt is still a charm, though.
Comment's Title

© 2010 Ahram Online.