a letter to every embassy and un (Nag Hammady)

On Jan. 6th, 2010 in Nag Hammady, Qena Province, in southern Egypt, 8 Coptic Christians and the church security guard were gunned down in cold blood while exiting Virgin Mary church following Christmas Eve mass by men who drove past the church and its surrounding areas targeting Christians with machine guns. Approximately 12 more people were seriously injured in this brutal attack. This was not a solitary event – in the last 9 months alone, other sectarian attacks in Dmas Meet Ghamr, Dayrout, Al-Tayeba, Hawasliya, Farshout, and Dier Mawas resulted in more murders, Coptic businesses and homes being burned, and the forced migration of Copts from their homes. In all these cases the Egyptian government has continued its pattern of denial and refusal to prosecute the perpetrators.

Your administration has been completely silent on this massacre, despite the over 1,000 newspaper articles written in English and the protests of thousands of Copts all around the world. Pope Benedict and the Italian Foreign Minister have both spoken out, yet America – supposedly the leader of the free world, and the premier advocate for human rights – stays quiet.

In your speech at Cairo University, you said that “People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways. Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt….Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it.”

It is unacceptable that the Egyptian regime allows such sectarian attacks and crimes against Egyptian Copts, the largest minority in Egypt and the last sizable Christian population in the Middle East.

Since the promotion of human rights and religious freedoms is supposed to be a cornerstone of American foreign policy, I am severely disappointed that your administration has not issued a strong statement unequivocally condemning such attacks. If the US is truly committed to being a strong advocate for human rights such public statements admonishing human rights abusers are necessary both to maintain legitimacy and to give hope to those who continue to fight so desperately for their rights. Nothing will change unless we, as a world, stand up and say that we will not sit idly by while a government consistently oppresses and abuses its citizens. President Obama, please lead by example and show the world that your actions will and do follow your rhetoric.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my concerns.

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