By Coptic Solidarity – Standard Newswire
Coptic Solidarity applauds Rep. French Hill (R-AR) and the ten other original cosponsors for working in a bipartisan manner to introduce H.Res.117 – Supporting Coptic Christians in Egypt. on February 11, 2021.While Coptic Solidarity has contributed to each of the previous resolutions introduced by Rep. Hill for Copts, we are proud to have partnered closely on this new one which is the most comprehensive and pushes for additional reforms from the Egyptian government. The original cosponsors of H. RES. 117 are: Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), and Rep. David Trone (D-MD).
H. RES. 117 notes that despite the passage of a law intended to streamline church legalization which was passed by the Egyptian Parliament in 2016, only 1,800 of approximately 5, 500 churches and church related building have received conditional approvals. According to the latest available information, only 200 of the 1,800 churches had received final approvals, meaning many of the others still must fulfill often onerous conditions which do not apply to mosques. Unlike the previous resolution, this one “urges the Government of Egypt to complete the process of church certification as initiated by the 2016 law.”
Another key update includes the expanding arrest and imprisonment of journalists, thinkers, and dissenters “who have been imprisoned indefinitely, detained without trial, or are subject to a revolving door of arrest, interrogation, pretrial detention and renewal hearings at which many prisoners have their detentions automatically renewed (for months or even years) without evidence, and re-arrest after release orders have been given.” Importantly, the resolution names imprisoned Copts, Ramy Kamel and Patrick Zaki, who have both been held in detention for more than one year.
Critical additions urging the Egyptian government to make reforms include releasing prisoners of conscience, removing religion from national ID cards, and urging an end to discrimination against Coptic athletes.
Coptic Solidarity’s president, Mrs. Caroline Doss Esq states:
We are grateful to all the members who have supported this strengthened resolution for Coptic equality. Neither of the previous resolutions, H. RES. 673, or H. RES. 49 made it out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. We urge Congress to move H. RES. 117 to a vote quickly to provide greater accountability to the Egyptian government for the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt.
Rep. Hill introduced H. RES. 673 in the 115th Session of Congress. Former Congressman Ed Royce, (R-CA) was Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at this time from 2013 through 2018. The resolution was never scheduled for a mark-up or vote. (Note that on November 9, 2020, the Egyptian government contracted the lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, who hired Ed Royce on its team).
Rep. Hill introduced H. RES. 49 Supporting Coptic Christians in Egypt, in the 116th Session of Congress. The resolution amassed 76 cosponsors and had strong bi-partisan support. Yet again, this resolution died in committee.
It is time for the US Congress to pass a resolution in support of Coptic equality and make a clear statement to the Egyptian government that systematic and systemic discrimination against a religious minority is unacceptable, states Doss.
Coptic Solidarity is an organization seeking to help minorities, particularly the Copts, of Egypt and we support those in Egypt working for democracy, freedom, and the protection of the fundamental rights of all Egyptian citizens. It advocates in cooperation with the affiliated organizations in Canada and in Europe (Solidarité Copte). For more information, contact Lindsay Griffin at 801-512-1713 or firstname.lastname@example.org