WASHINGTON, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Monday Secretary Kerry unveiled the annual International Religious Freedom Report for 2012. The report makes no mention of which countries will be designated as 'Countries of Particular Concern,' (CPC) countries that engage in egregious religious freedom violations. Although Congress created this key tool to improve religious freedom, the State Department has not utilized it to the full extent.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom recently released their annual report recommending that additional countries receive the 'CPC' designation including Egypt. Coptic Solidarity President Adel Guindy states "We are extremely disappointed Secretary Kerry did not make any 'CPC' designations this week and we urge him to do so immediately. Double hatting sanctions or giving national security waivers to certain countries undermines the effectiveness of the CPC designation."
The positive developments section requires a stretch of the imagination to be considered positive. The report states that President Morsi spoke out against religious extremism on a few specific occasions and cites such encouraging actions as "the government sometimes sent extra security forces to protect churches and prevent the escalation of conflict." Considering the large number of violent attacks against individuals and churches it is pathetic that only two instances can be cited in which perpetrators of these attacks against Copts received some form of punishment through legal action.
Notably, vastly more "blasphemy" cases are filed against Christians and moderate Muslims than in previous years. This trend supports PEW research that increased governmental restrictions on religious freedom result in higher societal restrictions.
The real story is seen through what is missing. Despite all US government officials' efforts to support religious freedom in Egypt, there are minimal improvements in the state of religious freedom not only for Copts, but also for other religious minorities. Guindy states, "Clearly the current US approach to improve religious freedom in Egypt is failing. Firmer action is now required and Coptic Solidarity calls on Secretary Kerry to designate Egypt as a CPC. Furthermore, this designation must be followed by concrete financial consequences such as through the use of sanctions. Until the US government is willing to do this, religious freedom will continue to deteriorate in Egypt."
Coptic Solidarity is non-profit organization dedicated to leading efforts to achieve equal citizenship for the Copts in Egypt. For more information, contact Hal Meawad 240-644-5153 or [email protected]
SOURCE Coptic Solidarity