By Coptic Solidarity –
Coptic Solidarity (CS) is dedicated to advocating for religious freedom and equal citizenship for Egypt’s Coptic Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. Coptic Solidarity leads a modern civil rights movement to help the Copts, Egypt’s indigenous Christians, achieve equality. Ours is a justice movement. We are an independent non-governmental human rights organization that is not beholden to the Egyptian government or to the Coptic Church.
- CS hosted its 9th Annual Conference on June 21-23, 2018 in Washington, DC. The theme, Egypt’s Copts: Faces of Persecution, focused on the various ways in which Copts suffer daily discrimination and persecution in Egypt and recommendations to help them achieve equality. This year’s conference featured six Members of the U.S. Congress, Lord David Alton of the UK House of Lords, and MP Garnett Genuis of the Canadian Parliament, in addition to 28 guest speakers, government officials and members of civil society organizations of various ethnic and religious backgrounds who represent a wide array of the political spectrum. Our conference is the premiere annual event that promotes awareness of the situation of the Copts and brings together top experts on Egypt and Coptic issues to help guide our strategy. It also enables CS to strengthen existing relationships and develop new ones to achieve our mission. Videos of key sessions and speeches are all available on Coptic Solidarity’s You Tube channel.
- CS inaugurated the first Modern Coptic Martyrs Remembrance Day (MCMRD) in Oct. 2016 at the National Press Club on the 5th anniversary of Maspero Massacre, to create greater awareness of the rapidly increasing number of Copts who have been killed for their faith, to highlight the plight of Copts who suffer religious persecution and daily discriminations, and to advocate for their religious freedom and civil rights. The 3rd event, hosted on October 3, 2018 built on our success in the previous two years. We attracted many more attendees, excellent guest speakers. It was streamed live for our many followers worldwide, particularly those in Egypt.
- Campaign in Support of H. RES. 673 – Expressing concern over attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt
CS assisted in drafting H. RES. 673, which Rep. French Hill (R-AR) introduced in December 2017. Coptic Solidarity has launched 2 grassroots campaigns in support of the resolution, which was co-sponsored by 54 House Representatives. We also circulated a joint NGO letter targeting Reps. Royce (R-CA) and Ros – Lehtinen (R-FL) to garner support for the resolution, and conducted quiet diplomacy to assist with its passage.
- Submitted a report directly to FIFA officials as well as on their new online complaints mechanism, delineating the rampant discrimination against Coptic footballers at all levels of football within Egypt.
- Gained over 1,500 new Facebook followers in the past 9 months.
- Engaged more young Copts to support our cause
- CS translated and published key Arabic op-eds in addition to our own op-eds and commentaries, position statements, and press releases. This is an important part of breaking through the controlled messaging of the Egyptian media and was a valuable resource for first generation immigrants for whom it is easier to read in Arabic.
- We Published 11 press releases and 8 other publications including reports, analysis, and opinion articles.
The introduction of H.RES. 673 resulted in unprecedented attacks from the Egyptian media and a hollow, formal response from the Egyptian Parliament. In reply to these accusations, CS president, Dr. Gurguis, published an article exposing their conspiratorial mindset and falsehoods. In addition, CS published 44 questions to be posed to the Egyptian Parliament to expose numerous facets of the discrimination against Copts using facts and figures.
Our accomplishments challenge the Egyptian governments narrative and well-funded public relations campaign that foreign terrorists perpetrate the attacks on Copts. We aim to expose the Egyptian government’s denial and help US government officials, US legislators, and policy experts understand that the majority of discrimination and persecution of Copts is coming from the Egyptian government and society, not from foreign terrorists.
Getting 54 cosponsors on H. RES. 673 demonstrates that US legislators are becoming more aware of the reality of the situation of the Copts in Egypt and the government’s denial, and are less willing to accept assertions that Copts are doing well by coerced church leadership. Some members of Congress who had previously accepted the Egyptian government’s narrative later cosponsored H. RES. 673, acknowledging that the plight of Copts is real, contrary to the Egyptian government’s assertions.
Without CS’s efforts, the Egyptian government narrative would have prevailed with most believing that the situation of Copts has improved under el-Sisi, when the opposite is true. Due to our efforts, many US legislators, the State Department, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and think tanks have been made aware of the true situation of Copts in Egypt. Our work reminds US policy makers that religious freedom is an integral part of US policy. It also reminds the Egyptian government that the US and international community are aware of its discriminatory policies against the Copts and are demanding concrete improvement.