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http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=47529

(ICC) – On behalf of the international Coptic community, the U.S. Copts Association has urged President George W. Bush to raise issues of Egyptian Christian human rights during his May 18 meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. Egypt’s indigenous, pre-Arab Christian Copts — numbering over 12 million and constituting between 15 to 20 percent of the Egyptian population — continue to suffer human rights abuses and discrimination under Egyptian law. In a May 18 letter to President Bush and full-page Washington Times advertisement, U.S. Copts Association president Michael Meunier commended the President for his commitment to democratic development in the Arabic-speaking world. Meunier requested that President Bush relay to Prime Minister Nazif the U.S.’s concern over the discrimination and persecution suffered by Egypt’s indigenous Coptic minority. Mr. Meunier’s letter, which was signed by Coptic leaders around the world, outlined several human and civil rights abuses — both tacitly and openly endorsed by the Egyptian government — including police-sanctioned hate crimes such as the kidnapping and forced conversion of young Coptic women and the destruction of Christian villages and houses of worship. “Despite the censure of the U.S. State Department, United Nations, NGOs such as Amnesty International, and bipartisan members of Congress,” said Meunier, “the Egyptian government — led by President Hosni Mubarak — remains impervious to legitimate Coptic grievances.”