Vice President Ashton response to escalating situation in Egypt 

Answer to Parliamentary questions 22 April 2013                           E-004467-13

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Roger Helmer (EFD)

Is the Commission aware of the escalating situation in Egypt as regards religious persecution? This is on the increase and becoming more vicious, as demonstrated by recent clashes in which six Coptic Christians and one Muslim are estimated to have died.

Does the Commission propose to take any action to help re-establish the peaceful co-existence of different religious groups in the area?

Answer given by High Representative/Vice President Ashtonon behalf of the Commission(20.6.2013)   

The Commission is aware of the escalating situation in Egypt concerning religious minorities, as the recent clashes in which six Copts and one Muslim died. The HR/VP issued a statement on 7 April while travelling to the region, urging for restraint and for the security forces to control the situation. The EU Delegation closely monitors the situation and its follow-up.


International Religious Freedom Report for 2012


In Egypt, the government generally failed to prevent, investigate, or prosecute crimes against members of religious minorities, including Coptic Christians, which fostered a climate of impunity. In some cases, authorities reacted slowly or with insufficient resolve when mobs attacked Christians and their property

In Egypt, anti-Semitic sentiment in the media was widespread and sometimes included Holocaust denial or glorification. On October 19, President Morsy said “Amen” during televised prayers in Mansour after an imam stated, “Oh Allah ... grant us victory over the infidels. Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters.” This is a common prayer in Egyptian mosques and came in a litany of other prayers. Also in October, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei made several anti-Semitic statements, including saying in a sermon that was also published online that “It is time for the Muslim [nation] to unite for the sake of Jerusalem and Palestine after the Jews have increased the corruption in the world….” He added that “Zionists only know the way of force.”

In Egypt, sectarian violence continued, with little accountability for the perpetrators. Bahais, Shias, and other minorities faced personal and collective discrimination.


European Court of Human Rights ruling:

Removal of a Coptic Christian to Egypt would expose him

to a risk of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment


Double click above to read more

تقرير منظمة العفو الدولية لعام 2013

حالة حقوق الإنسان في العالم

مصر جمهورية مصر العربيةرئيس الدولة: محمد مرسي (حل محل محمد حسين طنطاوي، في يونيو/حزيران)

رئيس الحكومة: هشام قنديل (حل محل كمال الجنزوري، في أغسطس/آب)

أسفرت الاحتجاجات على حكم المجلس الأعلى للقوات المسلحة عن مقتل ما لا يقل عن 28 شخصاً على أيدي قوات الأمن في القاهرة والسويس. واستخدمت قوات الأمن المركزي وقوات الجيش القوة المفرطة لتفريق المتظاهرين، وادعى متظاهرون فيما بعد أنهم تعرضوا للتعذيب أو غيره من صنوف المعاملة السيئة أثناء احتجازهم.

وفي نوفمبر/تشرين الثاني وديسمبر/كانون الأول، اندلعت مظاهرات معارضة للرئيس وأخرى مؤيدة لها، وجنح بعضها للعنف.

واستمرت المحاكمات الجائرة أمام محكمة أمن الدولة العليا طوارئ، وظلت قوات الأمن تتصرف باعتبارها فوق القانون. وحُكم على الرئيس السابق حسني مبارك ووزير داخليته السابق بالسجن المؤبد لإدانتهم بتهم تتعلق بقتل متظاهرين أثناء انتفاضة عام 2011، بينما بُرئ كثيرون آخرون ممن يُشتبه أنهم ارتكبوا أعمال القتل.

ولم يُحاسب أي من أعضاء المجلس الأعلى للقوات المسلحة عن الانتهاكات التي ارتُكبت خلال حكم المجلس. وشكَّل الرئيس محمد مرسي لجنة لتقصي الحقائق في الانتهاكات التي وقعت خلال الفترة من يناير/كانون الثاني 2011 إلى يونيو/حزيران 2012، وأصدر قرارات عفو عن بعض المدنيين الذين حُوكموا أمام محاكم عسكرية وعفواً عاماً عن الجرائم التي ارتكبها متظاهرون خلال المظاهرات ضد حكم المجلس الأعلى للقوات المسلحة. واستمر التمييز ضد الأقليات الدينية. وحُوكم بعض الصحفيين والنشطاء بتهمتي «إهانة الرئيس» وازدراء الأديان.

وظلت المرأة تعاني من التمييز في القانون وفي الواقع الفعلي، فضلاً عن التحرش الجنسي الواسع النطاق. وظلت آلاف العائلات تعيش في أحياء عشوائية في «مناطق غير آمنة»، بينما كانت آلاف العائلات الأخرى عرضة لخطر الإخلاء القسري. وذكرت الأنباء أن بعض المهاجرين قُتلوا على أيدي قوات الأمن وهم يحاولون عبور الحدود إلى إسرائيل، وكان آخرون ضحية للاستغلال على أيدي المهربين في شبه جزيرة سيناء. وصدرت أحكام بالإعدام ضد ما لا يقل عن 91 شخصاً، ولم يُعرف ما إذا كانت قد نُفذت أية إعدامات.



Annual Report 2013

The state of the world's human rights


Head of state
Mohamed Morsi (replaced Mohamed Hussein Tanawi in June)
Head of government
Hisham Qandeel (replaced Kamal Ganzouri in August)

Protests against military rule resulted in the killing of at least 28 protesters by security forces in Cairo and Suez. Riot police and the army used excessive force to disperse protesters, who later alleged that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated in custody. Protests, sometimes violent, by opponents and supporters of the President took place in November and December. Unfair trials by Emergency Supreme State Security Courts continued and security forces continued to act above the law. Former President Hosni Mubarak and the former Minister of Interior were sentenced to life imprisonment for killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising; many other suspected perpetrators were acquitted. No members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) were held to account for violations committed during their rule. President Mohamed Morsi established a committee to investigate violations committed between January 2011 and June 2012. He issued pardons for some civilians tried by military courts and a general amnesty for offences by protesters during demonstrations against military rule. Discrimination against religious minorities persisted. Journalists and activists were prosecuted for “insulting the President” and blasphemy. Women faced discrimination in law and practice as well as widespread sexual harassment. Thousands of families continued to live in “unsafe areas” in informal settlements (slums), while thousands more faced threats of forced eviction. Migrants were reportedly killed by security forces while attempting to cross into Israel or were exploited by traffickers in the Sinai Peninsula. At least 91 people were sentenced to death. It was not known whether there were any executions.


Freedom of religion scarce in Iran, China

Saudi Arabia in list of 8 nations ‘of particular concern’

Egypt generally failed to prevent, investigate, or prosecute crimes against members of religious minorities, including Coptic Christians

By Guy Taylor 

Declaring that “freedom of religion is a core American value,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry Monday released his department’s annual worldwide religious freedom report, which found “worrying” and “negative trends” around the globe.

“The freedom to profess and practice one’s faith, to believe or not to believe, or to change one’s beliefs, that is a birthright of every human being, and that’s what we believe,” Mr. Kerry told reporters in Washington, in remarks accompanying the release of the “International Religious Freedom Report for 2012.”

Honor US values and interests: Back religious freedom abroad ...


By Katrina Lantos Swett

Fifteen years ago, on May 14, 1998, U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a landmark effort to promote a pivotal human right abroad. In October of that year, the Senate also acted and President Clinton signed the International Religious Freedom Act, or IRFA, into law. Among other provisions, IRFA created the Office of International Religious Freedom in the State Department and the independent, bipartisan Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), of which I am chair.


As part of our mandate, USCIRF issues an annual report on the global state of religious freedom. On April 30, we issued our 2013 report.


How is this freedom faring today? As our report confirms, it is imperiled daily. Violations range from restrictions on building houses of worship to more severe abuses, including arbitrary detention, torture, and even murder.


For humanitarian reasons alone, we should care. But in our ever-uncertain post-9/11 world, we have further cause for concern.


Egypt risks drifting further away from human rights ideals that drove revolution – Pillay

GENEVA (8 May 2013) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday urged the Egyptian Government to take steps to ensure that the current version of a draft law on civil society organizations is laid open to careful examination by Egyptian and international human rights experts, and, based on their advice, is brought into line with international standards, before it is adopted by the Shura Council.

“If a law is passed that severely constrains the activities of civil society organizations, whose constructive contributions will be crucial to the country’s future direction as an inclusive democracy, it will mark a further blow to the hopes and aspirations that were raised during the 2011 ‘Egyptian Revolution,’” she said. “This is a critical moment, with mounting concerns about a range of issues. These include the new Constitution and the manner in which it was adopted, the apparent efforts to limit the authority of the judiciary, and this current draft law which risks placing civil society under the thumb of security ministries which have a history of abusing human rights and an interest in minimizing scrutiny.”


United States Commission on International Religious Freedom report 2013





Tier 1 Country of Particular Concern


Click here to read the report. 




House of Commons 

Hansard of: Persecution of Christians

4.25 pm

Naomi Long (Belfast East) (Alliance): I am pleased to have secured this debate on the increasing threat to freedom of religion in certain parts of the world, which is an important issue. Due to time pressure, I apologise in advance for the fact that I may not be able to accept many interventions. These are issues, however, on which I have placed significant emphasis during my time in Parliament not only because I believe passionately in the inherent importance of protecting fundamental human rights but because the evidence demonstrates that those societies that protect and respect fundamental rights tend to fare better in their protection of other human rights.

In preparation for this debate, I have worked closely with Open Doors, an organisation focusing on freedom for persecuted Christian Churches. I also thank Christian Solidarity Worldwide, His Grace, Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, and others who have circulated briefing materials ahead of today’s debate.


Egypt’s Coptic Christians must be protected from sectarian violence

Coptic Christians protest in Cairo, Egypt, May 2011.

Coptic Christians protest in Cairo, Egypt, May 2011.

Tahsin Bakr/Demotix

It is high time for the authorities to take sectarian violence and threats seriously. Time and time again, President Morsi claimed to be President of all Egyptians. Now, he needs to take action to ensure that sectarian violence is prevented and when it occurs it is properly investigated, and those responsible face justice.


Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.  

A rise in tensions between religious communities in the town of Wasta, about one hundred kilometres south of Cairo, in recent weeks highlights the failure of the Egyptian authorities to protect Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the largest religious minority in the country.



Eurpean Parliament concerned about the situation of the Egyptian judiciary, women rights and Freedom of religion produces resolution.


Urges the VP/HR and the Commission to develop the ‘more for more’ principle, with a particular focus on civil society, women’s rights and minority rights, in a more coherent and practical way, including clear conditions and benchmarks should the Egyptian Government steer away from democratic reforms and respect for human rights.


European Parliament resolution on the situation in Egypt (2013/2542(RSP)


pursuant to Rule 110(2) and (4) of the Rules of Procedure

replacing the motions by the following groups:

Verts/ALE (B7‑0095/2013)

PPE (B7‑0096/2013)

ECR (B7‑0097/2013)

ALDE (B7‑0099/2013)

S&D (B7‑0100/2013)


on the situation in Egypt (2013/2542(RSP))

Elmar Brok, Cristian Dan Preda, Roberta Angelilli, Elena Băsescu, Arnaud Danjean, Mário David, Sari Essayah, Salvatore Iacolino, Eduard Kukan, Nadezhda Neynsky, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, Hans‑Gert Pöttering, Jacek Protasiewicz, Tokia Saïfi, Peter Šťastný, Alf Svensson, Dominique Vlasto, Anne Delvaux, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė on behalf of the PPE Group
Véronique De Keyser, Pino Arlacchi, Corina Creţu, Saïd El Khadraoui, Ana Gomes, Liisa Jaakonsaari, María Muñiz De Urquiza, Raimon Obiols, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Kristian Vigenin on behalf of the S&D Group
Marietje Schaake, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Ivo Vajgl, Jelko Kacin, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Alexandra Thein, Graham Watson, Marielle de Sarnez, Edward McMillan-Scott, Antonyia Parvanova, Robert Rochefort, Louis Michel, RamonTremosa i Balcells, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Hannu Takkula, Kristiina Ojuland on behalf of the ALDE Group
Judith Sargentini, Hélène Flautre, Jean-Paul Besset, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Margrete Auken on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
Charles Tannock, Peter van Dalen, Valdemar Tomaševski, Sajjad Karim on behalf of the ECR Group  


Egypt hits 'new low' on NGO restrictions

Since the ‘25 January Revolution’ of 2011 the Egyptian authorities have continued cracking down

Since the ‘25 January Revolution’ of 2011 the Egyptian authorities have continued cracking down

Omar Robert Hamilton

NGOs in Egypt already face staggering restrictions, but this instruction is a new low


Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa

A move by Egyptian authorities to prohibit national NGOs’ contact with foreign organizations without prior permission from security bodies represents a new low for freedom of association, said Amnesty International.



Egypt: Catalogue of Cases in 2012

1. Summary and conclusions

Attacks against the Coptic community, which rose substantially during 2011, continued in 2012. Although at the beginning of the year, leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood congratulated the Coptic community during the Orthodox Christmas celebrations, the Salafi movement very pointedly did not, and were again at the forefront of hostility targeting the Christian community. Threats and violence against the Coptic community, which have been particularly marked in Upper Egypt, include inequality before the law; pressure on churches with regard to construction, ownership or repair of buildings; abductions of female minors; murder; the torching of homes and businesses, as well as the anti-Christian rhetoric by Muslim brotherhood spokesmen, Salafis and senior Islamic clergy.

This has been exacerbated by a continuing climate of impunity where perpetrators continue to commit crimes without prosecution. In addition, an increase in charges of blasphemy, insulting religion has occasioned problems not only for Christians, but also for atheists, moderate Muslims and those not adhering to Sunni Islam.


 Human Rights Watch Egypt 2013, total condemnation.



The rocky transition from autocratic and military rule continued following the 2011 ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt held democratic parliamentary and presidential elections, and ended 31 years of rule under emergency laws. However, serious human rights problems remain, including police abuse and impunity; restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and religion; and limits on the rights of women and workers.

Egypt’s first post-revolution parliament, elected between November 2011 and January 2012, failed to make significant human rights reforms before it was dissolved by the Supreme Constitutional Court on June 14 because the election law was deemed unconstitutional. Three days after the dissolution of parliament, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which had taken power after Mubarak’s ouster, passed an addendum to the constitutional declaration giving itself legislative powers, and a substantive role in drafting the constitution and limiting the powers of the new president.

On June 24, however, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsy was declared winner of the presidential elections, and on August 12 he repealed the SCAF addendum and ordered the retirement of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawy and Lieutenant General Sami Anan, the two most senior members of the SCAF. On November 22, President Morsy issued a constitutional declaration granting his decrees and laws immunity from judicial oversight, and dismissing the sitting public prosecutor, a move greeted with uproar and strikes by the judiciary. On November 30, the 100-person assembly started voting on the draft constitution, with a referendum due to take place 15 days after the final draft is approved.


Link to report:






Posted 7th July by

Religious freedom under increasing threat worldwide, study says

Government restrictions on religion and hostility involving it were highest in the Middle East and North Africa, most notably in Egypt


More countries around the world are clamping down on religious freedom and harassment and intimidation of religious groups has surged, according to a new study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.

The report tracked changes in religious tolerance through the middle of 2010. Though the findings are based on research done long before the recent eruption of widespread protests over insults to Islam, they shed new light on rising tension over faith


USCIRF Annual Report 2012 - Countries of Particular Concern: Egypt

FINDINGS: Over the past year, the Egyptian transitional government continued to engage in and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief. Serious problems of discrimination, intolerance, and other human rights violations against members of religious minorities, as well as disfavored Muslims, remain widespread in Egypt. Violence targeting Coptic Orthodox Christians increased significantly during the reporting period. The transitional government has failed to protect religious minorities from violent attacks at a time when minority communities have been increasingly vulnerable. This high level of violence and the failure to convict those responsible continued to foster a climate of impunity, making further violence more likely. During the reporting period, military and security forces used excessive force and live ammunition targeting Coptic Christian demonstrators and places of worship resulting in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries. The government also continued to prosecute, convict, and impose prison terms on Egyptian citizens charged with blasphemy. Implementation of previous court rulings related to granting official identity documents to Baha'is and changing religious affiliation on identity documents for converts to Christianity has seen some progress but continues to lag, particularly for Baha'is. In addition, the government has not responded adequately to combat widespread and virulent anti-Semitism in the government-controlled media.

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