Diminishing Rights of Egyptian Christians
There are two crimes on the books in Egypt that are increasing in application – “insulting the President” and “conversion to Christianity”.
Since insulting the king became a crime in 1909, few people have been charged. King Farouk applied the law on seven different occasions over sixteen years. During thirty years of rule, Hosny Mubarak applied the law a total of four times.
Though Mohammed Morsi has ruled for only 200 days, he has already invoked the law in at least 24 cases according to reports from the Arabic Network for Human Rights. While 24 cases may not seem a large number, it equals the number of times the law was invoked over the previous 100 years.
In one of the more publicized cases of committing the crime of converting to Christianity, Nadia Mohamed Ali who was a Coptic Christian, converted to Islam when she married a Muslim. After his death she sought to return to Christianity. She has received a 15-year prison sentence for her actions.
This is one example of the style of leadership Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are using in their rule of Egypt. Those who believe the Brotherhood can be won over to a democratic form of government are misguided. The Muslim Brotherhood uses democracy only for the purpose of becoming elected to office. Once in office, they exert tight control over the people.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ariel Vaagen said the Obama administration is concerned about the rights of Christians in Egypt,
“We are following reports of a number of Egyptians sentenced to imprisonment for forging identity documents to alter their religious identity from Muslim to Christian. We are deeply concerned with Egyptian laws that infringe on an individual’s universal right to choose his or her religion and call upon the Egyptian government to promote and protect universal freedoms, including freedom of religion, for all its citizens.”
Many people mistake statements for action, while all too often statements are nothing more than political pacifiers. For their part, Egyptian Christians are skeptical of US actions. This past summer when Hillary Clinton went to Egypt, a number of Christian leaders refused to meet with her, saying the US is harboring bias on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood and has failed to support them in their quest for civil liberties.
It is not difficult to understand the skepticism of Egyptian Christians when the US is sending sixteen F-16s and 200 Abrams tanks to the Egyptian government. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said,
“It is appalling that the Obama administration would send F-16s and 200 military tanks to Egypt in the wake of the instability, [and the] anti-American and anti-Israel atmosphere.”