U.S. Ambassador praises Egypt’s Freedom of the Press and Human Rights; Copts say otherwise

A friend sent me this translation of an original article in Arabic here.

During her visit to Tanta University Scobey praises Freedom of the Press and Human Rights in Egypt

Monday 14th of December 2009

Gharbia: Hend Adel

Margaret Scobey, the United States of America’s Ambassador to Egypt affirmed that there is no differentiation between minorities in Egypt and described it as the country of civil coexistence, where there are some cases that reach the level of slight conflict, that Egypt aims to solve before they develop, in light of it enjoying full freedom of the press and Human Rights organizations work there in complete freedom.

This came during the press conference that was held in Tanta University, where the American ambassador met the president of the university and watched a documentary movie on the university faculties. Scobey affirmed that there are strong relations between Egypt and America and they will continue in the future and that there are many investments between the two countries and also in Education and Universities, because Egypt cares about education and America provides educational grants, and that there are American grants in education, health, and complete development, which the American government cares about.

For his part, Doctor Abdel Fatah Sadka, the president of Tanta University, affirmed that this is the first visit by the American ambassador to the university and that there is a cultural and scientific exchange between the university professors and support for the university student’s chances of receiving scholarships in American universities and scientific exchange between Egyptian and American universities.

Scobey also met with a number of civil society organizations in the State and honored five women from the different parties. She went to Baisoun city to visit one of the private farms that depends on American live stock as well as visiting the State building and visiting the American Language School.

Concerning the American House of Representative “Congress” report on the owners of Arab satellites and considering them as terrorism financers, and the necessity of stopping those satellite’s signals, she said that she will not comment on draft resolutions, because they are discussed in Congress and the American administration has nothing to do with this resolution till now. She affirmed that Arab channels are watched a lot in America.

Concerning Mohamed El Baradei’s nomination to the presidency, she affirmed that this is an internal matter and no one is to interfere with it and we will not support anyone against anyone and America will remain explaining that it has established values and they are common values all around the world.

From AINA:

Posted GMT 12-14-2009 8:1:53

U.S. Coptic Christians to Rally Against Persecution in Egypt

Coptic Christians are planning to hold rallies in at least four U.S. cities Monday to express their “resentment and rejection” of the persecution that fellow believers are facing in Egypt.

The rallies, organized by members of the The Free Copts, will be held in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington at a time when Christians in Egypt are reportedly facing killings, destruction and looting of their property, deportation from their homes and the forced Islamization of their minor daughters.

They also come as Coptic Christians increasingly accuse the Egyptian State Security and other security authorities of having a hand in all crimes taking place against the Copts in Egypt.

“The Egyptian government facilitates attacks against Coptic Christians directly by destroying church properties, unlawfully detaining, raping and torturing converts to Christianity and failing to prosecute the Islamic extremists who attack Coptic Christians,” claim organizers of the rally Monday in front the United Nations building in New York.

Citing the U.S. State Department’s 2009 report on religious freedom, the organizers say the Egyptian government has engaged in acts “which generally obviated the prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against Copts and precluded their recourse to the judicial system.”

Furthermore, they added, there is a “failure to investigate and prosecute perpetrators.”

“State security and police forces reportedly instigated a sectarian clash in… and the Government again failed to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against Copts,” they noted.

Last month, hundreds of angry Muslims, and by some accounts thousands, attacked Coptic Christians in a southern Egyptian town over an allegation that a Christian man kidnapped and raped a Muslim girl.

The mob looted and burned at least 65 Christian-owned stores in Farshoot, about 300 miles south of Cairo, causing an estimated six million Egyptian pounds (over one million U.S. dollars) in damage, according to the Coptic American Friendship Association. Witnesses also reported that the mob made wooden crosses and burned them on the streets.

Following the incident, authorities reportedly put pressure on the Coptic Church in Nag Hammadi, which is under the same governorate as Farshoot, to tell the victims to accept extrajudicial reconciliation and reopen their businesses without compensation. Police in Farshoot also reportedly refused to issue police reports to victims, forcing them to travel 37 miles away to make a report with the Attorney General in Qena, the capital of the governorate.

The Christian community in Farshoot, however, said they will not be coerced into overlooking the mass riot and that they would unite to make authorities recognize what happened and punish perpetrators.

“There will be no reconciliation before full financial compensation has been paid to the Coptic victims, and the criminals are brought to justice, so that safety and security can be restored to the district,” said Bishop Kirollos of the Nag Hammadi Diocese, according to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA).

In light of the recent incident and others like it, Coptic Christians in the United States are planning to let their voices be heard Monday, joining in rallies and marches across America.

In New York, demonstrators plan to gather in front of the Egyptian Mission to the United Nations building and march towards the United Nations, where they expect to conclude the demonstration around 4 p.m.

The rally in Chicago, meanwhile, is scheduled to start at noon in front of the Egyptian Consulate in Chicago.

Although Egypt’s Christian population is small, making up eight to 12 percent of the overall population, it stands as the largest Christian community in the Middle East and is also among the oldest.

Despite their sizeable number in Egypt, the Christian community in Egypt, known as Coptics, are marginalized in society and reportedly suffer from violent forms of abuse. They also lack fair representation in the government, leading to further abuse of the minority group.

According to Egypt’s constitution, Islam is the “religion of the state” and the country’s “principle source of legislation.”

Aaron J. Leichman

President Barack Obama in Cairo:

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it’s being challenged in many different ways.

Among some Muslims, there’s a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of somebody else’s faith. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld — whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. (Applause.) And if we are being honest, fault lines must be closed among Muslims, as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

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