Religious Freedom in Egypt
31 May 2012 by Maria-Pia Negro
WASHINGTON (CNS) — As Egyptians began
voting to replace ousted President Hosni Mubarak,
Christian minorities were anxious to see if the next
government would end restrictions on religious freedom
and attacks on religious minorities that had been on the
rise the past couple of years.
Egypt was one of 16 countries that the U.S.
Commission on International Religious Freedom singled
out for particular concern in its 2012 annual report,
released in March. Egypt made the list for the second year
in a row.
Over the past year, the Egyptian transitional
government continued to engage in and tolerate
systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom
of thought, conscience and religion or belief, the report
Violent sectarian attacks targeted Coptic
Orthodox Christians in 2011, it said. About 100 Copts
were killed, according to the report, surpassing the death
toll of the previous decade. In most of the more than 40
sectarian attacks, the perpetrators were not convicted, the
This high level of violence and the failure to
convict those responsible continued to foster a climate of
impunity, making further violence more likely, the report
The U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom reported that the transitional government also
failed to prevent the Egyptian media from vilifying
religious groups including Coptic Christians, Jews and
That classification as a country of particular
concern encourages the State Department to take
diplomatic and economic actions intended to improve
religious freedom in those countries.
The commission members and Assistant Secretary
of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael
Posner have discussed religious violence in Egypt, as well
as in China. Posner visited Egypt in April of last year.
The other countries listed for concern this year
were Myanmar, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria,
Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey,
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
As in Egypt, many of the violations of religious
freedom included attacks on religious minority members,
Across much of the Middle East, Christian
communities that have been a presence for nearly 20
centuries have experienced severe declines in population,
aggravating their at-risk status in the region, the report
In Nigeria, Muslim-Christian violence resulted in
more than 800 deaths, the displacement of 65,000 people
and the destruction of churches and Mosques in 2011, it
The report cited blasphemy laws in Pakistan and
Egypt as creating an environment of chronic violence,
especially after the March 2, 2011, assassination of
Bhatti, a Catholic who was Pakistans federal
minister for minority affairs, was and a longtime religious
freedom advocate. Chinas Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur
Muslims also suffered the worst attacks in decades it said.
Tags: Egypt Egypt's Christians U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom