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Wednesday 4 January 2006

Coptic Christians fear death if deported back to Egypt

by Simon Cheung

Spokesman says state sanctions persecution by the Muslim majority

Twenty Egyptian Coptic Christians who have been refused refugee status in Canada risk serious harm and possible death if they return to Egypt , a spokesman for the group says.

“They will be tortured. They will be beaten. There is a big possibility that they will be killed,” Reverend Majel El Shafie said.

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has rejected the Coptics’ claims that they fear persecution from the Muslim majority if they are returned to Egypt .

Rev. El Shafie said it is illegal in Egypt to convert from Islam to another religion and it is also unlawful to repair or build synagogues or churches.

He said he was one of the Coptics who disappeared in an Egyptian jail.

Robin Seligman, an immigration lawyer working for the refused claimants, said: “It appears that there’s no rhyme nor reason as to who’s getting accepted and who’s getting refused. In terms of the integrity of the system, I think it’s important to ensure that there’s no inherent bias.”