By Carey Lodge, staff writer Christian Today
Reviewed by James L. Abrahamson, contributing editor
On last December’s United Nations “Human Rights Day,” five religious spokesmen testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee regarding escalating human rights abuses directed at Egypt’s minority religious groups. Congressman Chris Smith, who chaired the hearing, observed that following President Mubarak’s February 2011 resignation, the world had hoped for a “new Egypt.” Contrary to expectations, however, “persecution of Christians” continued under both the subsequent governments as “flash floods of violence” emerged from Egypt’s “long existing” “undercurrents of abuse and contempt for human dignity.”
In response, the world’s governments, including that of the United States, have done little more than “watch” the “escalating violence against minority communities.” Those who testified before the committee joined Coptic Bishop Angaelos in calling for “steps to be taken towards the establishment of a free, equal and democratic society in Egypt.”
“The persecution of religious minorities over the past decades has not manifested itself solely in physical attacks, but has frequently been embedded in process and policy, then translated into dealings with citizens on unequal grounds, inevitably having resulted in greater division and marginalization [sic],” Bishop Angaelos noted in his testimony.
Though Christians, the speakers claimed to speak on behalf of “human rights for all” and hoped that Egypt’s new constitution and its soon-to-be elected government would hold “to account” all those who violate human rights. Several of those who spoke also called upon the United States to condition its loans and trade policy on an improvement in the Egyptian’s government’s efforts to protect human rights.
A recent article by Bel Trew in Foreign Policy [www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/ 2013/12/24/silent_night] reveals that attacks upon Egypt’s Copts have moved beyond thefts and bombing of churches—43 destroyed nationwide—and attacks on Christian properties to, now, the privatized torturing and holding of individual Christians to ransom. In the Minya governate alone, over a hundred people have been taken and $750,000 in payments made—evidence, wrote Trew, of a general “security vacuum.”
In “Act now to save the Middle East’s Christians,” The Spectator [www.spectator.co.uk/features/ 9099452/protect-the-christians/], British Bishop Nazar-Ali takes a long view of the problem, dating it back to the time when the Coptic faith dominated all of north Africa prior to the Muslim invasion that reduced Christians and Jews to second-class, barely tolerated members of Islamic society. Just as the West recently defended Muslims in the Balkans, it might now credibly take steps to preserve the rights of Christians from Morocco to Pakistan.