By Coptic Solidarity –
Coptic Solidarity was a Convening Partner with the 2024 International Religious Freedom Summit last week in Washington, DC, and we are excited to share some highlights from our participation in the event.
The summit had a separate track for young adults which included an extra day dedicated to training and an opportunity to network and build community among seasoned and young activists. Coptic Solidarity recommended 3 Coptic students for this opportunity who were able to participate. We continue to focus on engaging young adults in advocacy for Coptic equality and are grateful for the ideas, hard work, and passion they bring to our efforts!
Continuing Coptic Solidarity’s focus on training the next generation, we utilized our only speaker nomination to recommend a young Coptic activist to participate as a guest speaker in a session titled Violations Against Indigenous and Occupied Religious Communities which we helped organize with Assyrian Aid and the G20 Forum. The activist did an excellent job presenting on the situation of Copts by highlighting the cases of Soad Thabet and Baby Shenouda, explaining how they exemplify Copts’ second-class citizenship status, and the continuity of oppression throughout history. Coptic Solidarity’s Lindsay Rodriguez co-moderated the session with Dr. Cole Durham of G20 Forum.
A group of smaller organizations combined resources to enable us to share display tables during the summit including Jubilee Campaign, Ex-Muslims of North America, Set My People Free, Advocates International, Religious Liberty Partnership, and Christian Freedom International. We chose a theme for our joint displays which was Free to Choose which included a campaign page and solicited signatures on a religious freedom charter. Coptic Solidarity was able to share about our work with those in attendance and to pass out publications on critical issues, including our report Recognizing the Coptic “Indigenous Peoples” Status for Protection from State-Sponsored Discrimination.
The event also provided many opportunities to connect with our existing partners to discuss future collaborations, as well as to make new contacts with whom we can work to advance the mission of Coptic equality in Egypt. The types of collaboration we pursued will further existing work at the United Nations, with the US Government, and legislators. Topics of collaboration included addressing the trafficking of Coptic women and minor girls, blasphemy laws, religion required on ID cards, building and repair of churches, and the destruction and burning of churches, in addition to the overarching issues of 2nd class citizenship.
(Updated on Feb. 7)