The Foreign Relations Committee of the Egyptian Parliament is preparing a report in response to the US Congress “Coptic Solidarity” memorandum alleging persecution of Copts in Egypt.
The memorandum was introduced last month and claimed that Copts were subjected to “systematic bigotry” and “treatment as second-class citizens in Egypt”. Described as a document “full of lies” by the Egyptian Parliament, the memorandum alleged there was a “culture of impunity for attacks on Christians” in the country.
The Committee’s draft document rejects these claims and identifies the Muslim Brotherhood as the promoter of the idea that there is a conflict between Egyptian Muslims and Christians, “to attract the attention of [the] Western public”. It says that the MB and affiliated terrorist groups were responsible for “torching Coptic churches across Egypt, increasing sectarian violence” and “the massacres of Coptic Christians perpetrated by jihadist gangs”.
The report then states that after the removal of the MB regime, 83 churches, as well as private properties of Christians, were reconstructed and renovated under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s administration and that he frequently participated in the Coptic Church’s celebrations.
The six-page response refers to Article 244 of the Constitution, which “helped Christians gain 39 seats in parliament for the first time”, and indicates that a new law passed in 2016 made it easier for Christians, and Copts in particular, to build churches.
The Coptic Orthodox Church also rejected the US Congress memorandum and claimed the government carried out its “full duty in repairing and renovating the churches”.
The Egyptian Parliament is expected to discuss a draft law on establishing a national anti-discrimination commission which will ensure that religious minorities in Egypt will not face persecution or discrimination.
According to Open Doors, a charity that supports Christians for their faith around the world, Christians make up 10 per cent of Egypt’s population. Geographically, they reside throughout the country, with higher concentrations in Upper Egypt and in the suburbs of Cairo and Alexandria. In addition to the majority Coptic Orthodox Church (one of the oldest denominations in the world), there are many other Christian groups in the country, including communities of Christians from a Muslim background.