Mike, a Coptic Christian who has immigrated to the United States, has asked Restrain the Blade to publish this letter to President Barack Obama. Out of concern for his safety, only the author's first name is made public.
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Dear President Obama,
I am writing to you as Coptic Christian who immigrated to the United States in the late 1970s.
I am an American citizen.
I have grave concerns about what is going in Egypt regarding the Copts.
To put it bluntly, I fear that something very bad is going to happen to this community in the very near future.
Coptic Christians have been the victims of systematic abuse and oppression in Egypt for a long time. On November 17, 2010, the U.S. Department of State recently issued a report on religious freedom in Egypt that details the abuses they suffer on a daily basis. January of this year, six Coptic Christians were murdered outside their church after celebrating Christmas.
Sadly, I fear another attack will happen again sometime in the near future.
The tendency of blaming the State of Israel for every problem in Egypt, and linking it to the Copts, is on the rise, especially in the past a few months. By associating the Copts with the Jewish state, extremists and government officials are inciting hostility toward a beleaguered, defenseless minority.
The anti-Israel polemic is fairly well known. One official accused recent shark and jellyfish for attacks on swimmers at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Mossad. The aalleged goal was to kill the tourism season.
What is less well known is that Muslim Imams throughout the Middle East are demonizing Coptic Christians in Egypt. One oft-repeated claim is that Israel is using Coptic churches to store all kinds of weapons to attack Muslims. Such accusations lead to threats of violence.
For example, Sheik Wagdi Ghoneim recently said in a video message from the State of Qatar “I swear by God, you will not have time stay alive until America and the West arrive, this is for your own good, if you understand. Do you think the Muslims inside Egypt will say thank you and may Allah give you health? “No, by God.”
And on September 16, 2010 Mr., Muhammad Salim Al-Awa, Secretary-General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars announced on Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar): Copts Amass Weapons in Egyptian Churches and Are "Preparing for War against the Muslims".
Copts are even being blamed for the violence perpetrated against them by Muslim extremists in Egypt. For example, after a mob of 5,000 Egyptians recently attacked a Christian service building, President’s Mubarak former assistant, Dr. Mustafa El- Feki from Ain Shams University stated that Israel and the Copts were at fault for the attack and the two deaths that resulted from it. Dr. El Feki stated that Israel was behind the subsequent protests: “"It is almost certain that the Mossad is involved in these events. The State is dealing with dangerous events that could not have succeeded without external intervention with Israel at its head."
Here, it is important to note why the mob attacked the building in the first place. While the Egyptian government does not allow Christians to build churches, it does allow them to build “service buildings” where social services can be provided to the elderly and to young people in the Coptic Christian community. The mob attacked this service building after hearing rumors that the building itself was going to be used as a church and not merely to provide social services to its members.
Mr. President, in light of numerous acts of incitement and previous acts of violence, I fear that Coptic Christians in Egypt are going to have a very tough Christmas season. I implore you to use your good offices to insist that the Egyptian government protect the rights of its Christian citizens.
For reasons of my own safety, I can only sign my first name, but nevertheless, I offer wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I ask that you use your influence to make sure Christians in Egypt can celebrate their holidays in safety.
Dec. 24, 2010