By PRNeswire -Washington, DC, August 21, 2017/
Coptic Solidarity applauds the U.S. government for its continued attention to international religious freedom (IRF) through the publication of its annual report, which was released on August 15, 2017. Overall documentation and quality of the Egypt chapter is excellent, yet its timid language suggests lack of a cohesive policy towards Egypt within the Trump administration. Read full analysis>>
The absence of definitive statements regarding the year’s developments was notable. The language was less explicit in drawing conclusions, with the frequent use of “sometimes” to describe regular scenarios of persecution. This is likely the result of key vacancies, including the lack of an Ambassador at Large for IRF since Ambassador Saperstein left the office.
Another reason likely is the lack of a cohesive and clear foreign policy within the administration. President Trump has thus far focused on joint US/Egypt efforts to combat terrorism with little effort spent on pressuring Egypt to improve religious freedom and human rights. The apparent result is a report that cites various incidents, but fails to draw definitive conclusions.
Each year, Coptic Solidarity provides an analysis and recommendations to improve the chapter of the report on Egypt. We applaud the addition of several recommendations made to the 2015 report, including reporting on the repair of churches destroyed in August 2013 violence, lack of Copts in prominent positions, kidnapping of Coptic girls, and reporting on the discrimination against Coptic athletes.
The primary purpose of the IRF report is to cover any improvements or worsening of religious freedom in each country, but Coptic Solidarity has noted the absence of many important incidents of religious freedom violations in Egypt unless they occurred during the reporting year. Moreover, the report praises president Sisi’s calls for reforming “religious discourse,” but notes that such calls have “sometimes” not been heeded by the state. This is a serious understatement which fails to mention that the spread of hate culture by Wahabi Salafis, de facto allies of President Sisi, goes unabated with the complicit support of the government. This results in lack of clarity in the broader understanding of what is happening to religious minorities in Egypt.
Coptic Solidarity continues to recommend adding a follow up section to the report that would delineate more clearly major incidents and track what actions have been taken to prosecute perpetrators, and if any reparations have been made to the victims. Adding follow up on incidents such as the Maspero Massacre, the multiple church bombings, and the individual acts of violence against Copts and their property would bring greater continuity to the report and increase accountability to the culture of impunity in Egypt.
While Coptic Solidarity makes recommendations for improvement, the report continues to be one of the best available tools for those advocating religious freedom worldwide.
Coptic Solidarity is an organization seeking to help minorities, particularly the Copts, of Egypt and we support those in Egypt working for upholding values of freedom, equality, and the protection of the fundamental rights of all Egyptian citizens. It advocates in cooperation with the affiliated organizations in Canada and in Europe (Solidarité Copte). For more information, contact Lindsay Griffin at 801-512-1713 or firstname.lastname@example.org