U.S. religious freedom report turns new page in Egypt’s affairs
Dalia Ziada, Executive director of the Ibn Khaldoun Center - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Egyptian Center for Development Studies and Human Rights refused the annual report issued by the U.S. Department of State to discuss religious freedom in Egypt. It described the report as interference in Egypt’s affairs and an attempt to clash with the Egyptian state.

Head of the center Joseph Malak expressed his astonishment over the position adopted by the U.S. Administration not to bear the responsibility of violations committed against the Coptic Christiants and the churches and houses to the Muslim Brotherhood.

He said in a press statement issued Monday that it is clear evidence that the U.S. adopted a biased position to support a specific faction at the expense of others.   He said the U.S. blamed the government for the violations to justify its clashes with Egyptian after the June 30 demonstrations.

According to the report, the commission received reports that alleged that the police did not investigate many cases due to fears of retribution from the violent extremists. “The inability to protect the Coptic Christians and other religious minorities and successfully prosecute those responsible for violence continued to foster a climate of impunity.”

Executive Manager of Ibn-Khaldoun Center for Development Studies activist Dalia Ziada said the report was positive compared to the previous reports issued. “This report was made to express the desire of the U.S. Administration to turn a new page with the Egyptian government,” she said.

“The Foreign Ministry should contact those who drafted the report to discuss ways to execute the report recommendations to prove that Egypt respects the human rights principles,” she told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

She refuted the claims adopted by the report over the position of Baha’is: “The government recognized the citizenship of Baha’is upon a judicial verdict; the main problem is the violations committed against them due to their cultural background.”

The U.S. report underlined that Baha’is living in Egypt are unable to meet or engage in public religious activities, blaming Al-Azhar for its fatwas to resume the ban imposed on the Baha’i community since the 1960s.

The High Administrative Court decided to force governmental authorities not to change the religious faith of the Baha’is in their formal documents. It decided in its verdict issued in March 2009 not to mention the religious identity on their identification cards, replacing it with a vague dash.

Spokesperson of Egypt’s Evangelical Church Pastor Ekram Lamei expressed his resentment over the report, warning that such reports could increase the hostile approach adopted by the extremists against Christians in Egypt.

According to Watan Newspaper, Lamei said, “Egypt’s Coptic Christiants are not a minority but they are a main component of the Egyptian community. The violations committed against them came are a result of the recent developments witnessed in the country.” He said these violations would be eliminated if the government managed to achieve democratic progress.

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