By Coptic Solidarity
Coptic Solidarity strongly supports President El-Sisi’s declared war on terrorism to combat Islamist forces intent on impeding a stable and prosperous future for Egypt. The necessary combatting of terrorism, however, need not, and must not, inhibit the advancement of equal rights for all Egyptians.
The last week in Egypt was a turbulent one, including the murder of prosecutor-general, Hisham Barakat, by a bomb attack on his motorcade in Cairo, and the most brazen and well-coordinated attacks by an Islamic State affiliate against multiple army checkpoints in northern Sinai, leaving at least 17 members of the military dead. The Egyptian military responded with force to the Sinai attacks, and is continuing with a comprehensive offensive that has killed an estimated 100 militants.
Coptic Solidarity extends sincere condolences to the family of Minister Barakat and to the families of those soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in the recent attacks, and stands firmly with this country’s armed forces in this fundamental task of ridding Egypt of armed terrorists.
There are two prevailing responses to these events in Egypt: one is the belief that efforts to promote human rights and democracy must be suspended in order to focus exclusively on the terror threat; the other, to downplay the war against terrorism and view it as an excuse to clampdown on civil society and those viewed as political, religious, or social dissenters.
Coptic Solidarity rejects both approaches and contends that the Egyptian government’s necessary confrontation against a nefarious terrorist threat is supported by implementing laws that protect and respect the fundamental rights of all citizens, including the rights for Copts and other minorities to be treated as full and equal citizens.
Coptic Christians continue to suffer from unequal treatment in Egypt, and are exposed to violent kidnappings, rape, forced marriage and conversion, forced evacuations of Christian families in the Sinai and parts of Upper Egypt, continued restrictions on building and repairing churches, impunity for those who attack and kill Copts and burn places of worship, the continued use of “community reconciliation” sessions to prevent Copts from receiving justice when harmed by Muslims, the near total absence of Copts appointed to high ranking positions in the government, military and academia, and the continued use and abuse of anti-blasphemy laws to intimidate and silence Coptic voices.
The overwhelming majority of Copts strongly support President El-Sisi and his efforts to stabilize Egypt through combatting terrorism. They are proud to be Egyptian and to have supported the revolutions in hopes of achieving democracy and equality for their nation. They are grateful that El-Sisi attended the Coptic Christmas Mass this past January, for extending personal condolences to Pope Tawdros II when the 21 Copts were martyred in Libya, and for speaking out against radical Islam at Al Azhar University, but more must be done, even – and we believe especially – in this time of trial against terrorists intent on destroying the vision of a progressive and modern Egypt.
Coptic Solidarity is an organization seeking to help minorities, particularly the Copts, of Egypt and we support those in Egypt working for democracy, freedom, and the protection of the fundamental rights of all Egyptian citizens. Our international organization has headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area in the U.S., with key branches currently in Canada, France, and Egypt. Our organization believes that the international community plays a key role in helping ensure the protection and upholding of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. For more information, contact Lindsay Vessey at 801-512-1713 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Coptic Solidarity