Guest / Limited Access /
Egyptians recently warned three members of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to tread lightly.

The three visited Egypt March 20-24—during a time of heightened tensions and skepticism toward American initiatives in the Middle East—as part of a regional tour including Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the occupied territories.

The commission later asked President George W. Bush to raise the issue of religious freedom during an April visit of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Churches must obtain government permission to build or repair their facilities. Christians are frequently discriminated against, in hiring and promotion, by private employers.

The delegation met with Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III and Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi of Cairo's Al-Azhar University, the world's premier educational institution for Sunni Muslims. Others—including Mufti Farid Wassel; No'man Goma'a, leader of the 2-million-member liberal Wafid Party; and prominent human-rights activists—refused to meet with the delegation.

"The U.S. does not have the right to act as the protector of human rights in the world," says Abdel Mo'ti Bayoumi, head of the Theological College of Al-Azhar. "See how they guarded human rights in Iraq and Palestine? That was far from evenhanded."

Hisham Kassem, chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, said he is concerned about U.S. government interest in Christian rights in Egypt. "Is it in line with Christian faith to behave like a bull in a china shop and jeopardize the well-being of Christians in Egypt?" Kassem asks. "Pushing for the rights of Christians in a country [that] is perhaps 10 percent Christian and 90 percent Muslim is bound to lead to ill feelings from Muslims, which ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Tags:
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
A Real Survivor
Behind Virginia Stem Owens' interview with death-row chaplain Jim Brazzil.
RecommendedThe 10 Most-Read Stories of the Persecuted Church
The 10 Most-Read Stories of the Persecuted Church
China removes 400 crosses, the US deports Iraqi Christians, and ISIS beheads dozens.
Trending‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
Islamic extremism now has a rival, according to 2017 World Watch List.
Editor's PickThe Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
The Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
What Paula White’s Washington moment implies for the prosperity gospel’s future.
Christianity Today
Egypt: Religious Freedom Delegation Gets Cold Shoulder
hide thisMay 21 May 21

In the Magazine

May 21, 2001

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.