The Third Annual Coptic Solidarity Conference which wound up its sessions on Friday June 29, was attended by an unprecedented number of prominent political figures.
Amongst the most prominent figures attending the conference was Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael H. Posner. There was also a number of Congressmen such as Senator Roy Blunt and Congressman Frank Wolf. Also in attendance was Lord Alton from the British House of Lords and Jim Karygiannis, a senior member of the Canadian Parliament.
In his inaugural address, Adel Guindy, Head of the Coptic Solidarity Organization, said that Copts have contributed to Egypt’s revolution from its early beginnings. However, he said, Copts paid a dear price as extremist movements emerged since then.
Guindy explained that due to the deteriorating security situation churches were burned, the army massacred peaceful Coptic demonstrators and mowed them down by military armored vehicles. Also, biased and unfair extralegal and ad hoc rulings have ordered the expulsion of complete families from their homes and their villages, he added.
Guindy adamantly declared that in case the United States and the International Community were not interested in helping Egypt move ahead towards democracy and achieve its pursuit to further the people’s indisputable rights, they should then back off and stop undermining the country’s endeavor to achieve true democracy.
During the conference Michael Posner faced a barrage of severe criticism regarding the United States policies. Posner denied allegations that the Obama Administration was in favor of appointing a member of the Muslim Brotherhood as president of Egypt.
The Assistant Secretary of State’s denial was met, though, with deep skepticism by the audience.
Michael Posner explained that members of the Muslim Brotherhood are in power because they were elected through the ballot box; therefore, he said, the U.S. has to deal with them as such. He further stated that Americans, whenever they met with Egyptian officials, during the rule of Mubarak or at present, they have always showed concern and addressed “minorities’ issues and religious freedoms”. He also promised to convey to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the views of the conference.
Ambassador Suzan Cook, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, said that the United States is monitoring Copts and religious minorities’ conditions in Egypt, and is addressing relevant issues with the Egyptian officials.
For her part, Dr. Katherine Lantos, the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, expressed approval to include Egypt on the shortlist of “nations of particular concern”. Dr. Lantos, however, suggested that she has found some positive aspects in Al-Azhar’s document.
Lord David Alton, member of the British House of Lords, vehemently criticized the West, America and Europe for failing to grasp the dangerous progress of events in a crucial country such as Egypt. “What happens there won’t happen here, is a precept that history has proven wrong. What happens there – if ignored – will inevitably reach us here,” stated Lord Alton.
Sheikh Sami El-Khoury, President of the World Maronite Union, expressed full solidarity with the Copts. He added “Christians in Lebanon stand in full solidarity with their brothers in Egypt. There are twelve million Middle East Christians in Diaspora who are more than willing to sacrifice their blood for the sake of their Coptic brothers”.
Coptic human rights activist Magdy Khalil said that the Third Annual Conference of the Coptic Solidarity Organization is by far the biggest Coptic conference with respect to formal and official participation by top officials in the American administration, and also for the importance and diversity of speakers.
In his speech, Rev Father Felopater Gamil severely criticized the U.S. policies on Egypt. Rev Father Gamil said “Those who imagine that the post-revolution events in Egypt are a normal change towards more democracy, are making a big mistake. It is not just a mistake but rather a terrible crime against humanity to support theocratic regimes using religion to manipulate and fool credulous people.
Nina Shea, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Center for Religious Freedom, spoke elaborately about Coptic problems in Egypt and accused the American Administration of neglecting these problems. Ms. Shea further stressed that the American Administration has offered nothing to the Copts
Carl Moeller, CEO of the American Open Door Organization, said that in case the world continued to ignore the problems of Christian minorities, the Middle East will turn into a museum for Christians. Moeller further asserted that the so-called Arab Spring has turned into a “Winter” for Middle East Christians.
Dr. Michele Clark, Board Member of Christian Solidarity International and Professor of studies on illicit trade in humans at George Town University, addressed the issue of Coptic girls abduction and disappearance. Dr. Clark had previously testified on Capitol Hill on the continued abuse of Coptic females in Egypt.
The conference’s final session was devoted to interventions from Christian minorities in the Middle East, giving them a chance to be heard and to talk about their conditions.
At the same session, the Coptic Solidarity Organization presented Dr. Selim Naguib, the veteran rights activist and great Coptic freedom fighter and founder of Canada Coptic Movement back in 1969, who was also a judge at Montreal Court, for his efforts and valuable services to the Coptic cause over several decades.
The Canadian human rights activist Farouk Malek received the shield on behalf of Dr. Selim Naguib.
Coptic Solidarity is a U.S. public charity organization under section 501 (C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are deductible under Section 170 of the Code.