Coptic Christian deportations underway
By David F. Dawes
THE DEPORTATION of 20 Egyptians from Canada has begun, and advocates for the group insist that they will be placed in severe danger if they are returned to Egypt .
The deportees, all of whom are Coptic Christians affiliated with the Church of Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius in Mississauga , tried unsuccessfully to obtain refugee status in this country.
Meanwhile, some Canadians have taken up their cause. They insist that the claimants will be subjected to discrimination by Egyptian authorities, and will be targeted by some of the country’s Islamic extremists.
The case has drawn some prominent media coverage. According to the January 4 National Post, the claimants maintain they are facing a perilous future: “Mina, a refused claimant who asked that his real name not be used, said he was stabbed multiple times in a 1998 confrontation with a group who later burned his welding shop in Alexandria.”
A group of Muslims, Mina told the Post, “called me at home, and they said: ‘We’re going to kill you.'” Further, “[They] told my brother-in-law, ‘We know he’s coming back soon, and we’re ready for him.’ I don’t know what’s going to happen to me, but I know I’m not going back to my home.'”
Such fears are confirmed by Majed El Shafie, who heads the Toronto-based One Free World International. A one-time Muslim, he maintains that he was tortured by Egyptian government authorities some years ago for advocacy on behalf of persecuted Christians.
In a report issued to immigration authorities, El Shafie declared: “I have no previous or direct personal knowledge of any of the Claimants. The facts as provided to me are credible and consistent with the treatment of Coptic Christians in Egypt and indicate a well-founded fear that the Claimants’ return to Egypt will result in the possibility of torture, risk to life, or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
“In all of these cases, the threats and violence against the Claimants was instigated or perpetrated by various Islamic fundamentalist individuals or groups and, with the exception of one case implicating the State Security Intelligence of Egypt (SSI), do not involve violence perpetrated directly by government agencies.