May 8, 2011 — New York — AJC called on the Egyptian government to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of Christians Copts and their religious institutions, after two Cairo churches were burned last night. At least ten people died in the attacks, with many more injured, the third major assault on Copts since the beginning of this year.
“Egypt’s dramatic transition to democracy, if it is to take place in earnest, will be tested by how the country’s minorities are treated,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “The total lack of security around Coptic churches is profoundly troubling, sending a message of disregard by the Egyptian authorities.”
Egypt’s 8 million Copts comprise about 10 percent of the country’s population. In March, a church in southern Egypt was torched, following the New Year’s Day suicide bombing at an Alexandria church that left more than 20 dead.
“As we have said in the past, Egyptian authorities must provide security for Coptic churches, speak out forcefully against this religiously-motivated violence, and urge a climate of respect for those of minority faiths,” said Harris.
In another sign of growing concern over the situation in Egypt, the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended that Egypt, for the first time, be designated a “country of particular concern.”