By Coptic Solidarity –
Coptic Solidarity has obtained documentation confirming that the head of Egypt’s Protestant Churches, the Reverend Andrea Zaki Stephanous Killini, has been lobbying officials at the US State Department and Members of the US Congress after filing with the US Department of Justice in accord with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (*) “in purpose of explaining the Egyptian’s situation in general and in specific the Christian’s situation in Egypt and the Islamic- Christian relation.” An article by African Intelligence titled Reverend Zaki Discreetly Lobbies Washington on Sisi’s Behalf broke the story, which was shared with Coptic Solidarity before its publication. Despite being given the opportunity, Rev. Zaki did not reply to the publication’s requests for comment.
The article notes that “Rev. Zaki started discretely making appointments in the US capital in Oct. 2021 and has continued racking up meetings all the way through June of this year. (His) aim was to persuade members of the House of Representatives and State Department officials of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s credentials when it comes to defending religious freedom.”
It adds that “Zaki has managed to (meet) several members of the House of Representatives including Glenn Grothman (R.) from Wisconsin and Jody B. Hice (R.) from Georgia. Both are members of congressional caucuses (..), namely Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, and the International Religious Freedom Caucus.”
According to the article, during these trips, Zaki also met with the head of the State Department’s Near East Affairs unit, and with the group commissioned by Office of Global Religious Freedom to write its annual report. Its findings were challenged by Coptic Solidarity, a Coptic advocacy group.
“Rev. Zaki has continuously presented a false narrative and overly positive view of the situation of Egypt’s indigenous Coptic Christians”, says Coptic Solidarity founding member and Board member, Magdi Khalil. “Those familiar with the situation in Egypt have urged him to be truthful, but he has given the same message of improvement for the Egyptian government throughout the past several years, regardless of the reality.”
A possible devasting consequence of Rev. Zaki’s misinformation is that the Office of International Religious Freedom has published annual reports on Egypt that are misleading and present a far more positive narrative than is warranted. The direct result has been a more systematic denial of asylum requests by Copts, with many asylum officers, throughout the U.S., citing the State Department report on Egypt as grounds to deny Egyptian Christians asylum in the US. While large numbers of Copts are fleeing Egypt and the size and number of diaspora churches is swelling, the US government (under Republican and Democrat administrations alike) continues to downplay and refuse to offer adequate support to Egypt’s Christians who are suffering unprovoked murder and attempted murder in the streets, the inability to repair or formerly register their churches due to the absence of a unified houses of worship law, targeting by blasphemy laws, and the heinous daily discrimination imposed by the presence of religion on government-issued ID cards, forms, and all formal documentation.
Additionally, the Egyptian government has utilized lobbying firms to spread similar fallacious information such as through a pamphlet titled: Strengthening National Unity: Religious Freedom and Diversity in Egypt, under the header of Embassy of Egypt, Washington, distributed by D.C.’s Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP (contracted since Nov. 2020 by the Egyptian Embassy at a $65,000 per month), which Coptic Solidarity debunked, in painstaking detail.
Coptic Solidarity Concerns
(*) Rev. Zaki has registered at the U.S. Justice Department on Oct. 10, 2021