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Several pieces have been posted recently on the unabated persecution of Christians and other religious minorities like Yazidis and Mandeans in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East — and of the relative indifference of the State Department and the Obama administration to it. Last month, journalist Kirsten Powers wrote in USA Today that President Obama “just can’t seem to find any passion for the mass persecution of Middle Eastern Christians.” Reporting on a joint press conference that Obama held with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, she writes:
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Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC)
Under Threat: The Worsening Plight of Egypt’s Coptic Christians
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. 334 Cannon HOB
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on threats to religious freedom in Egypt, including, the worsening plight of Egypt’s Coptic Christians. At a time when the world’s attention is on Egypt as it undergoes historic but tumultuous political change, it is important that the U.S. continue to shine the spotlight on the difficulties confronting religious minorities in the country. Egypt is on the cusp of a new era but the transition to a democratic society means more than just holding elections. It means that basic freedoms—such as the freedom of religion— are protected.
The Coptic Christian community, which traces its origins back 2,000 years and is the largest religious minority in Egypt today, is under assault. Churches have been bombed and citizens have been attacked while the Egyptian government seemingly encourages a culture of impunity for those responsible for these acts of violence. This hearing will address the continued discrimination and physical threats to the Coptic community and consider how the United States can better support religious freedom.
We will hear from the following witnesses: ***
Kathy Fitzpatrick, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State
Nina Shea – Director, Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute
Dina Guirguis – Egyptian American democracy activist, attorney, and member, Egyptian American Rule of Law Association
Adel Guindy - President, Coptic Solidarity International
Cynthia Farahat – Egyptian political activist, writer and researcher
Raymond Ibrahim – Middle East specialist and Associate fellow, Middle East Forum
***Witness list subject to change.
Frank R. Wolf James P. McGovern Member of Congress Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC Co-Chair, TLHRC