By Coptic Solidarity –
For Immediate Release
(Washington, DC) February 10, 2022
President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi just appointed Judge Boulos Fahmy to preside over Egypt’s High Constitutional Court. This is the first time a Copt has been appointed to such a position since the creation of the Court in 1970.
This would certainly be a welcome move—only if it represented a change in the country’s “institutionalized” discrimination against the Copts.
Is there such a change?
Just two days earlier, the same President El-Sisi signed the Presidential Decree #45/2022, published in the Official Gazette in its issue dated Feb. 5, 2022, related to transfers and promotions in judiciary positions (prosecutors and judges). The total number of names listed was 1167. Copts number no more than 20, at a ratio of 1.71%.
This typical decree exemplifies how Copts are seriously under-represented in State positions and clearly confirms that the infamous “2% glass ceiling” imposed on Copts in ALL (repeat, ALL) State branches, has been implemented like religious dogma. This 2% ceiling is applied across the board in entry-level positions from the judiciary, the military and police academies, to the diplomatic corps. Additionally, Copts are strictly prohibited from entering any of the “sensitive” government branches (such as the various security and intelligence services as well as the presidential office).
Examples of Copts’ exclusion:
- When Egypt first established a “cabinet” in 1878, there has been one Coptic minister out of a total of ten ministers. All throughout the 20th century, there were at least two (sometimes three) ministers out of 25-30. Portfolios were as prominent as prime minister, foreign affairs or even defense (under the monarchy), and deputy prime- minister or economy (under Mubarak). Since President El-Sisi came to power, there has been only one Coptic Minister in the government out of 34 ministers and 14 deputy ministers. Currently there is one junior minister in charge of Immigration and Expatriate Affairs and has virtually no duties in her portfolio (apart from harassing Coptic communities abroad), making it a token appointment.
- Egypt has about 165 Ambassadors and heads of diplomatic or consular missions abroad. At any one point in time, there are never more than three Copts; and none of them serve in a key capital or is positioned at international organizations. When was the last Coptic ambassador to D.C., London, Paris, U.N. or UNESCO? (Compare the situation of Copts to African Americans, who represent the same percentage of the total population in the U.S.)
- There are no Copts serving as president or vice-president in any of the government’s 25 public universities, which are financed by all taxpayers. These public universities include over 450 faculties, with more than 1,550 leadership positions; Only a handful of these are occupied by Copts. In the public universities in Minya and Assiut, Copts represent 25-30% of the total students, yet less than 5% of the faculty.
The irony of this recent appointment is that it clearly demonstrates that political will is the key to action. If the president wills, he can!
Coptic Solidarity sincerely hopes that appointing a Copt to lead the Constitutional Court is not merely a token (though welcome) move, but a first step in an overdue new anti-discrimination policy in Egypt.