WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014
Coptic Solidarity concluded its annual conference after two days of policy discussion on the Arab Spring and its consequences on Minorities. A Policy Education Day was hosted on Capitol Hill, showcasing participation by many members of Congress, by Middle East Christian NGOs, Muslim reformers, human rights and research foundations, and prominent intellectuals and experts. Additionally, the conference received widespread coverage by US, Arab, and international media. The Conference issued the following closing statement:
The tsunami of violence in the Middle East, particularly aimed at civil society and at minorities, should not be the only consequence of the Arab Spring uprisings. Violence against minorities, particularly Christians, should not be a fatality nor is it unavoidable. While driven by a vicious hate-ideology, the Jihadist Salafi ideology or its sister Khomeinist doctrine are unfortunately tolerated, if not encouraged, by world powers, and financed by regional players.
The human cost paid by the weaker communities in the region, especially Christians, is egregious and must weigh heavily on the conscience of all humanity. Western political leaders bear direct responsibility in this catastrophe, by action or inaction.
The eradication of ancient indigenous communities of Middle East Christians and other minorities is quickly becoming a reality on the ground coming just a century after the Genocide against Armenians and Assyrians, it represents a harsh reminder of the Holocaust-like Jihadi design to “cleanse” the Middle East of Christians and Christianity altogether.
The conference has addressed the situation in the above mentioned countries and declares:
On Iraq – Syria
The dire situation requires immediate action whose top priority now must be to protect the populations through internationally protected safe havens in both countries.
We call on the United States, the European Union and moderate Arab countries to ask the UN Security Council to hold a special session to address the threat of ethnic cleansing now taking place in both countries and issue a UNSC resolution to protect these endangered communities where they live within their respective countries. We also support the special demand issued by the representatives of the Iraqi Christian communities to have the UNSCR issued under Chapter 7 of the Charter to deploy an international Peace Force in the Nineveh Plains region in northern Iraq to stop the ongoing ethnic cleansing and protect civilian populations from all religious and ethnic backgrounds.
We appreciate the daunting challenges president El-Sisi faces in Egypt after decades of stagnation and corruption and years of chaotic turmoil, and call upon Egyptians abroad to support their homeland in this delicate period.
We expect that President El-Sisi will act as a president for All Egyptians, and emphasize that the June 30, 2013 uprising by millions of Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, was essentially about rejecting the Brotherhood’s ideology and project of establishing an Islamist state, not about their “mistakes” in implementing it:
While Egypt requires massive financial resources to achieve the ambitious goals set by president El-Sisi, it needs nothing more than political will to uphold constitutional principles of citizenship, liberties and full equality. These fundamental rights, are not gifts and do not depend upon anybody’s goodwill, “tolerance,” or magnanimity;
Must immediately stop Medieval practices, such as accusations of “contempt against religion (Islam),” forced “reconciliation sessions,” collective punishment and deportation of the innocent, etc.;
The “improved” articles in the 2014 Constitution on liberties, equality, fighting discrimination, and church-building rights need to be enshrined into laws and put to practice as polices. It is vital that Egypt moves towards a ‘secular’ and pluralist model where religion does not steer politics;
The international community, especially the U.S. and Europe, have a key role to play:
Support by all means Egypt’s efforts in combatting terrorism, before the Sinai turns into a permanent haven for Jihadi groups and threatens the entire region;
Stop supporting, in the name of ‘inclusive democracy,’ groups such as the Brotherhood, whose totalitarian ideology is contrary to the values of the civilized world. Such support only emboldens societal violence.
On Middle East Christians, at the Regional Level
Coptic Solidarity joins its partners in the Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC) in expressing its utmost concerns regarding the global suppression of Christians in the Middle East at the hands of fundamentalist networks and regimes.
The suppression of Christian minorities is widespread under different forms in Lebanon, North Africa, Iran and Sudan. We condemn mass abuses of human rights of Christian communities and other defenseless ethnic minorities, as well as of Muslim reformers, dissidents and civil society activists, and demand the immediate cessation of such practices and the recognition of the rights of these communities internationally and within each country.
We call on the major world powers to form a consensus inside the U.N. Security Council to end violence in the region, protect civil societies from terror and oppression, confront the various Jihadists and Islamist violent networks and contain Iranian and Hezbollah’s aggressive militarization.
On US Foreign Policy
We urge the US Administration and the US Congress to produce significant changes in US Foreign Policy in the Middle East and North Africa regions, by making the protection of minorities a priority, and by adopting a new policy in support of civil society components, particularly women, youth and democracy movements across the region, including in the Arab countries, Iran and Turkey. We urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly bring the Special Envoy Bill, S. 653 to a vote and ask that Senators Mike Lee and Tom Coburn immediately remove their holds on the bill.