CAIRO - 24 January 2018: On Jan. 4, Deputy Chairman of the Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee Tarek el-Khouli said the committee is preparing a report to reply to the allegations made by the U.S. Congress regarding violations committed against Coptic Christians in Egypt.
The Parliament refuted the allegations within the resolution during a hearing session that addressed the consequences of the bill last Dec. 27
In coordination with Egypt's State Information Service (SIS), the report will be discussed before sending it to the U.S. Congress and foreign media, Khouli told Egypt Today on Thursday.
Parliament refuses U.S. Congress’ Dec. 21 bill:
A resolution was introduced to the U.S. Congress on Dec. 21 expressing concerns over attacks on Coptic citizens in Egypt.
U.S. Congress members, namely Carolyn B. Maloney, David N. Cicilline, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, David A. Trott and Brad Sherman, both Republicans and Democrats, cosponsored the house resolution claiming the persecution of Copts in Egypt.
The Parliament refuted the allegations within the resolution during a hearing session that addressed the consequences of the bill last Dec. 27.
The resolution came as follows:
The resolution alleged that Copts were subjected to:
• Systemic bigotry and longstanding sectarian divisions
• Treatment as second-class citizens in Egypt
• A culture of impunity for attacks on Christians
Alaa Abed, head of the Human Rights Committee, said in press statements that the committee will take action this month, which will include a visit to the United Nations and western capitals. He added that Coptic MPs will respond in regards to this issue.
MP Margaret Azer, deputy head of the Human Rights Committee, refused to characterize Coptic Christians in Egypt as a minority, arguing that they are citizens who have the same rights as Muslims.
Such claims, as stated in the Congress bill, have been stirring anger among government institutions, pro-state media, and public figures, all of whom rejected the torture claims and accused the NGO of publishing lies, inaccuracies, and acting upon a pro-Muslim Brotherhood agenda.
The report, prepared by MPs, affirmed the strength of Egypt’s social fabric throughout history, as peace has prevailed among all Muslim and Coptic Egyptians.
The report further explained how Egypt’s revolutions have been highlighting the Egyptian strong social fabric; as “The crescent and the cross united in the 1919 Revolution, and slogans like “Religion for Allah; homeland to all” were upheld. Places of worship were sacred, and they were protected, whether they were Muslim or Christian, thus embodying the spirit of citizenship and the fortitude of Egyptians.”
Shedding the light on the main problem, the report focused on the role played by the Muslim Brotherhood in inciting sedition in the country.
The crimes of the MB have emanated from one idea they are still promoting; trying to claim the existence of a conflict between Egyptian Muslims and Christians
The report added that since the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, it has played a systematic and strategic role in the Egyptian politics. It added that the terrorist organization paved the way for the birth of extremist and terrorist entities and groups.
“One year after the MB rose to power, the crucial moment came, when an unprecedented number of Egyptians (34 millions) revolted against them all over the country, all segments of society participated” the statement said. “The Egyptian army took the people’s side, raising the slogan of “the people and the army are one”, Every Egyptian Muslim and Christian stood by this principle.”
The report further added that Egypt confronted all terrorist operations targeting the destruction and burning down of Christian places of worship, which counted 83 operations that targeted churches, convent schools and Christian retreats, not forgetting Christians’ private properties, especially after the dispersal of the Rabaa and al-Nahda sit-ins.
“The crimes of the MB have emanated from one idea they are still promoting: trying to claim the existence of a conflict between Egyptian Muslims and Christians, to attract the attention of Western public opinion,” the statement said.
Effort by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was also mentioned in the statement as he “effectively upheld the principle of citizenship when he participated in the Church’s celebrations throughout his time in office.”
“President Sisi frequently visits the St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abbasia and meets Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria. The President therefore established a legacy that demonstrates Egypt’s strong social fabric.”
President Sisi frequently visits the St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abbasia and meets Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria.
To immortalize the names of Muslim and Christian martyrs, the President inaugurated two giant bridges under the names of Martyr Abanob Girgis and Colonel Mohammed al-Mansi, in honor of Egyptians’ fight against terrorism.
Moreover, 83 churches have been rebuilt and renovated, in addition to many Christians’ private properties.
“The Churches Establishment Law was passed on August 30, 2016. Since, it was passed, 17 churches have been built all over Egypt. Recently, more churches have been built too, and more than 4000 churches have been legalized.”
The Parliament’s report came as follows:
The church denies it too!
For its part, the Coptic Orthodox Church also rejected the bill ad said the government carried out its “full duty in repairing and renovating the churches,” a process it said is nearing completion as pledged by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. “Egyptian national unity is above all, and can never be compromised,” the Church added.
Father Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt, also denounced the bill; addressing the U.S. Congress as he sarcastically asked, “Where were you when the MB looted and burned our churches in 2013?”
"A homeland without churches is better than churches without a homeland," - Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria
The American Coptic Association further rejected the bill; it said it saw nothing to justify such bill when the Egyptian State had already restored some 90 per cent of the damaged buildings.
The Armed Forces already set a budget of LE300 million to complete the restoration of churches and Christian establishments that were rampaged at the hands of the MB and their supporters in 2013.
Bill “full of lies”!
Chairman of Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee Tarek Radwan said the memo presented to the U.S. congress from six members claiming violations of rights of Christians in Egypt is in fact "full of lies".
"The memo is not based on any evidence regarding claims of violence or discrimination against Christians in Egypt," said Diaa Rashwan, head of the State Information Service (SIS).
Rashwan further called, during a hearing session held by the Foreign Relations, Defense and National Security committees on the bill, for inviting the six American lawmakers who cosponsored the bill to another hearing in the Egyptian Parliament attended by Coptic MPs and to word a rebuttal.
The SIS head asserted that all Egyptians, whether Muslims or Christians, are possible targets in the eyes of terrorism.
83 churches have been rebuilt and renovated, in addition to many Christians’ private properties
A Coptic member of the Parliament, Magdy Malak, from Upper Egypt governorate of Minya, said that Copts living in Egypt will not accept a protection from a foreign power.
Malak added that the number of villages in Minya exceeds 2000, still the incidents driven by sectarian reasons did not pass 37, not more than two percent of the other crimes.
Malak said that the Copts problems are part of the other burdens the Egyptian State are wearied by, such as the Health and the education.
MP Tharwat Bakhit, a member of the Supreme Committee of the Free Egyptians Party, highlighted the role played by the Egyptian Coptic Church for decades, naming the Patriarchs of the ancient church by the Golden chain.