Two Coptic Christians face "heavy prison sentences" if they are charged and convicted of engaging in missionary work in Egypt. From TheStar.com
CAIRO, Egypt – Egyptian authorities have detained two Coptic Christian activists suspected of posting anti-Islamic messages on a Christian website, a police official and the lawyer for the two said Thursday.
State security officers stormed the homes of Adel Fawzy and Peter Ezzat in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, arresting the two on Wednesday and seizing documents and computers, said the police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Fawzy and Ezzat are the founders of the Cairo branch of the Middle East Christian Association, known as MECA, an Ontario-based group that advocates the rights and freedoms of Christians in the Middle East.
Is this the action of a government that "rules justly"?
In 2002, the US National Security Strategy articulated a new aid doctrine, saying that money should go to "countries whose governments rule justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom."
It's disheartening American tax dollars, in the billions, are going to a country that suppresses basic freedoms. Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas, in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post, asked for our help: Help Our Fight for Real Democracy:
I am an Egyptian blogger. And the Mubarak regime is out to get me and others like me.
It is engaged in an all-out campaign against those of us who use the Internet to report the truth about what is happening in Egypt. It is spreading rumors about us and targeting us for character assassination. Judges allied with the government have filed lawsuits against more than 50 bloggers, accusing them of blackmail and of defaming Egypt and demanding that their blogs be shut down. Meanwhile, security officials appear on television to claim that the bloggers are violating media and communications laws.
Is this the kind of regime you want your tax money to support?
Mubarak, thanks to our support, continues to suppress free speech and religious freedom and the Egyptian people, like Abbas continue to suffer. Another blogger, Abdel Kareem Amer Soliman is in prison, sentenced to four years "for insulting Islam and Egypt's president". Last month Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) sent a letter to Mubarak specifically mentioning Kareem. Here is the press release (emphasis in the original):
Aug 1, 2007 – Last week, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), co-chairs of the Congressional Task Force on International Religious Freedom, sent a letter to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak calling upon him to address growing religious freedom concerns. In particular, the letter called for the immediate release and pardon of Abdel Kareem Amer Soliman, a blogger who was imprisoned on charges of criticizing the President and Islam.
Congressman Franks stated, “I am very concerned about Kareem and the example Egypt is setting in the region by suppressing peaceful discussion of human rights concerns. It is time for President Mubarak to back up his stated support for democracy with action— by making the laws consistent with Egypt’s international human rights commitments, pardoning those who have been unjustly convicted, and ensuring that government officials and society respect these commitments.”
Kareem’s case is only one example of the deterioration in Egypt’s stated respect for human rights and religious freedom over the past year. Most recently, there have been serious concerns that Shaymaa al-Sayed, a Christian convert who was taken into custody by the Egyptian police, interrogated, and later released to her family – who beat her before driving her away – will be killed by them if the State does not intervene soon. In late May, five Koranists were arrested in Egypt. The letter addresses concerns related to several other religious groups, including the Baha’i, Jewish and Coptic Christian communities which have all experienced similar problems.
Reps. Franks and Cleaver can add two more names to the list of persecuted Egyptians, Adel Fawzy and Peter Ezzat.