In Conferences

Summary Report and Conference Resolutions

 

Coptic Solidarity  held its third Annual Conference at Washington, D.C. under the main theme of “US National Security and Advancing Human and Minority Rights in Egypt: Is there a policy connection?”  

Thursday June 28, 2012

 

On Thursday June 28, 2012 a special Coptic Solidarity Policy Education Day took place in the Capitol. After opening remarks by Coptic Solidarity president, several prominent parliamentarians gave speeches across the day:

 

  • Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) Appropriations Committee, Committee on Intelligence
  • Lord Alton of Liverpool, the U.K. House of Lords
  • Congressman Joseph R. Pitts  (R-PA) Energy & Commerce Committee
  • Congressman Frank Wolf  (R-VA) Committee on Appropriations
  • Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) Committee on Appropriations
  • Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) Committee on Homeland Security, Committee on Foreign Affairs
  • Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) Armed Services Committe.
  • Hon. Jim Karygiannis MP, Canadian House of Commons

 

All policy makers voiced strong support to the Copts and stressed on the importance that Egypt should commit to a form of democracy that upholds values of universal human rights and equality between its citizens. Some policy makers raised concerns about the current U.S. Administration’s overtures towards religious extremists.

 

The U.S. Administration was represented by high-ranking officials in the areas of international human rights:

 

  • Mr. Michael H. Posner,  Assistant Secretary of State, for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
  • Dr. Suzan D. Johnson Cook,  Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.
  • Dr Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

 

Mr. Posner and Dr. Cook discussed the U.S. policies regarding the situation in Egypt and reiterated that the idea that the U.S. favors the Brotherhood is “a misconception.” They answered several questions from the participants who indicated their deep concerns about the current U.S. stand.

 

Dr. Swett’s keynote speech entitled: “Religious Freedom in Egypt: Recommendations for U.S. Policy.” Dr Swett gave key recommendations including the importance for the United States to designate Egypt as a “country of particular concern” as one of the world’s most serious religious freedom abusers.

 

The Policy Day also included three panels:

 

The first panel entitled, “Advancing Human and Minority Rights in Egypt: Policy Imperatives.” Chaired by Hon. Fred Grandy, former Congressman and Vice President of Center for Security Policy, guest speakers were:

 

  • Dr. Kurt J. Werthmuller, Research Fellow, Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute
  • Fr. Filopater,  priest, a leader of the Maspero Youth Movement, Egypt
  • Ms. Stephanie Hammond, Foreign Policy Legislative Assistant and Director of the International Religious Freedom Caucus. 

 

Speakers of the first panel surveyed the human rights situation in Egypt from various angles, and some criticized the current short-sighted approach of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

 

The second panel entitled, “Why advancing human and minority rights should be a American and European national security priority?” Chaired by  Dr. Walid Phares, Advisor to the Anti-Terrorism Caucus in the US House of Representatives and Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Legislative Group on Counter Terrorism, guest speakers were:

 

  • Mr. Sami El-Koury, President, World Maronite Union
  • Lord David Alton, Member of the House of Lords, and Director of Center for Religious Freedom
  • Mr. Jim Karygiannis MP, Canadian Parliament

 

Dr. Phares gave a speech on proposed future strategies to be pursued by Copts and Middle East minorities.  Mr. Koury expressed strong support for the Copts, and Lord Alton and Mr. Karygiannis spoke about the important role of the international community in the “new” Egypt.

 

The third panel entitled “U.S. foreign policy and the rise of extremism in the Middle East.” Chaired by  Ms. Emilie Kao, Senior International Legal Counsel, previously at the  Office of International Religious Freedom, the State Department, guest speakers included:

 

  • Ms.  Nina Shea, director, Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute
  • Dr Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD)
  • Dr. Tawfik Hamid, Chair for the Study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

 

Speakers examined with great alarm the dangerous rise in religious totalitarianism, clarified that Muslim societies need ‘reform’ (renewal) rather than revival of old tenets, and emphasized the role of moderate Muslims along with others to defeat the Islamo-fascistic powers.

 

Friday June 29, 2012

 

On Friday June 29, 2012 the conference was held at the Marriott Washington Dulles Airport Hotel, and was comprised of three panels:

The first panel entitled, “ The status of religious freedom in the Middle East,” chaired by Mr.  Gary Lane, Sr. International Correspondent, CBN. Guest speakers were:

 

  • Ms. Ann Buwalda Esq., Director, Jubilee Campaign U.S.A.
  • Dr. Carl A. Moeller, President/CEO, Open Doors USA
  • Pr. Michele A. Clark, Board Member, Christian Solidarity International
  • Dr. William Weessa,  Founder and editor, Middle East Christian News (MCN)
  • Ms. Tina Ramirez, Director of International and Government Relations, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

 

Speakers reiterated the mounting suffering by the religious minorities in the Middle East, often amid silence, indifference or misinformation in the West.

 

The second panel entitled, U.S. approach to religious freedom in the Middle East,” chaired by Mr. Raymond Ibrahim Middle East and Islam specialist, an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. Guest speakers were:

 

  • Mr.  Emanuel Ogebe Esq., Managing Partner USN Law Group
  • Ms. Faith J. H. McDonnell, Director of Religious Liberty, The Institute on Religion and Democracy
  • Mr. Jordan Sekulow, Director of Policy and International Operations, The American Center for Law & Justice
  • Mr. Todd Nettleton, Director of Media Development, The Voice of the Martyrs

 

Mr Ogebe explained situation in North Nigeria where violent extremist groups. Other speakers focused on the role of NGOs in supporting the suffering minorities and raising public awareness about their plight.  

 

The third panel entitled, Minorities under Islamic rule,” Chaired by Mr. Magdi Khalil, Coptic Solidarity Board Member. Speakers included:

 

  • Dr. Essam Abdallah, Egyptian liberal intellectual
  • Mr. Maher Aziz, President, Egyptian Democratic Solidarity, Cairo
  • Mr. John Hajjar Esq., World Council for the Cedars Revolution

 

Conference Resolutions

 

Under the rule of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), and their “civilian” allies from the international Islamist organization of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Egypt daily deviates towards a Pakistani model with almost full domination of governmental institutions, which threatens basic freedoms and liberties in Egypt, well as creating a security hazard with far-reaching internal, regional and international implications.

 

Coptic Solidarity’s main objective is to raise awareness of the political situation in Egypt through offering factual on the ground data and a comprehensive analysis of Egypt’s religious, social and political demographics and their dynamics to help increase awareness of the international community; as well as soliciting support of the international community and elected officials regarding the situation of the Copts through offering a different approach to American and European foreign policy.

 

The international community needs to be made aware of the strategic long-term negative implications of misunderstanding and undermining the dangers of religious fascism actively working to dominate Egypt and the region; and that advancing human and minority rights in Egypt, and countries with similar socio-political nature, should be a national security priority of the countries of the free world.

 

  1. In the “new Egypt” it is more vital than ever for the Copts have to take a proactive role with representation in policy making, along with other secularist and liberal forces, in forming the future of Egypt. This is rather an existential imperative for Copts, Egypt, and the future of regional and international peace.
  2. It is of great importance that the U.S. and Europe condition any form of aid to Egypt to the country’s abiding, constitutionally and legally, by its commitment to international human rights conventions and treaties; and to designate part of the aid to compensate victims.
  3. Coptic Solidarity will form strong alliance with Middle Eastern Christians and other minorities, and liberal secular Muslims to advocate against religious fascism in Egypt and the region.
  4. Coptic Solidarity in alliance with various NGO’s, policy makers will work to support USCIRF recommendations that Egypt gets designated as a Country of Particular Concern due to its grave institutional assault on basic freedoms and state sponsored persecution and sometimes murder of religious minorities; as Egypt satisfies the definition of a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 (H.R. 2431) and its amendment of 1999 (Public Law 106-55).
  5. The role of religion in Egypt’s future constitution is a fundamental issue with long-term implications. For historical, factual and legal reasons, Copts (with their allies’ help) must reject any “religious reference” in the constitution. If imposed by the Islamists, the constitution would lose its consensual basis.
  6. Actively support the passage of S. 1245 legislation which would require President Obama’s administration to appoint a Special Envoy for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.

 

(H.R. 440 was passed by the House last year, but Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) has placed a hold on the bill S. 1245 in the Senate, preventing it from moving forward. If S. 1245 is not passed in this session of Congress and signed into law, the process will have to be started all over next year in the new session of Congress).

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