But fear not: the flowering secular democracy will be just great for Christians in Egypt. And if you believe that, I’ve got some lovely riverfront property I’d like to talk to you about. “Panel blacklists Egypt for religious oppression,” by Ashish Kumar Sen for The Washington Times, April 28 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Egypt systematically oppresses Christians and minority Muslim sects, according to a congressional commission that placed a key U.S. ally in the Arab world on a blacklist of nations that routinely abuse religious liberties.
Egypt, for the first time, was designated a “country of particular concern” for the “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its annual report released Thursday.
The independent, bipartisan commission also noted that President Obama has failed to add any country it cited for religious intolerance to a separate blacklist maintained by the State Department.
Countries on the State Department list face some level of economic sanctions.
“There is a problem with the failure to cite countries, and then a failure to take action when countries are cited,” commission Chairman Leonard Leo told The Washington Times.
The commission reported on 28 countries with severe religious strife, citing 14 as the most serious abusers. The commission included 11 on a lower-level “watch list” of nations with lesser degrees of religious persecution and three others where conditions are closely monitored.
Some countries were cited for official persecution of religious minorities or a failure to prosecute suspects arrested for religiously motivated crimes. The commission blamed blasphemy laws in some Muslim countries for religious violence.
Egypt, which receives about $1.5 billion a year in U.S. aid, was the only country moved from the watch list to the blacklist of countries of “particular concern” in this year’s report.
The commission noted that attacks on religious minorities, especially against Orthodox Christians, called Copts, “remained high,” even after the anti-government uprisings that toppled authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak in February. Egypt’s Christians make up 10 percent of the population of 82 million.
“Orthodox Christians, called Copts” is not quite accurate. Orthodox Christians who accept the Council of Chalcedon — i.e., Greeks, Russians, etc. — are not the majority of Copts. The main body of Copts, led by Pope Shenouda, are commonly called Coptic Orthodox but actually reject Chalcedon, or at least did so historically, and are not in communion with the groups usually called Orthodox.
“In the case of Egypt, instances of severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government have increased dramatically “¦ with violence, including murder, escalating against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities,” Mr. Leo said….