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Copts call on Rice to discuss human rights, religious freedom in Egypt
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.- The American Coptic Union (ACU) is urging Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss the continued human rights abuses of Coptic Christians in Egypt during her upcoming meeting with the Egyptian government.

The ACU, which is a nonprofit organization that represents Coptic people in the U.S. and Egypt, claims violations against the Copts have been escalating since Sept. 11, 2001, and the Egyptian government has not responded with any protection. The ACU claims Islamic terrorists and the Egyptian State Security Investigation authority continue to attack and persecute the Copts.

“The daily horrors of shame-rape, ethnic cleansing, forced displacement, and forced conversion, particularly in the southern part of Upper Egypt, are seriously eroding the Copts’ economic, social, and religious existence,” the letter recent to Rice reads.

“Despite the good relationship and numerous calls by President George W. Bush to President Hosni Mubarak, the daily life of the Copts continues to deteriorate,” the letter says.
 
“While the Egypt government continues to isolate its Coptic population, it has never discussed the constitutional rights of Egypt’s Christians nor has it legislated any new laws or presidential decrees to ensure human rights for the Copts,” it reads. “In fact, human rights activists are often harassed, attacked and falsely imprisoned.”

The ACU says it has documented and reported many of these crimes, which the Egyptian government has ignored. The letter tells of the case of Mary Bulak, a Coptic mother, whose two minor daughters were kidnapped, raped, and forcefully converted to Islam in 2003.

“Although our organization has spent considerable time with officials from the U.S. Department of State and the USCIRF, giving full details of the horrible crimes and suffering endured by the Bulaks, the Egyptian government still refuses to end the suffering of this family, and thousands of other families who have endured similar persecution,” the letter states.

The ACU also pointed out that the 2004 murder of human rights lawyer Sabry Zaky has been ignored by officials and remains unsolved.

In their letter, the ACU also suggests “building a friendly grass roots effort with those Christians and Muslims who are loyal to the U.S. and its values for freedom.”

The 2006 CIA World Factbook estimates that nearly 7 million, or 9 percent, of the ethnic Egyptian population is Coptic, making it the largest Christian community in the Arabic world.  The term Coptic refers to an ethno-religious group made up of Orthodox, Catholic, and some Protestant Christians originating in Egypt.

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