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Christian org to Obama: Egypt gov’t complicit in “raping” Coptic girls

ICC Notes:

The U.S. based International Christian Solidarity Organization wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to interject on behalf of the safety and religious freedom of Coptic Christian girls in Egypt. However, many Coptic leaders condemned the letter as an “blatant interference in Egyptian affairs,” and are outraged that the ICSO has involved the American President.

By Mohamed Abdel Salam

11/16/2009 Egypt (BikyaMasr) – An American Christian organization accused the Egyptian government of involvement in “raping and the coercive disappearance of Coptic girls and forcing them to convert to Islam” and accused Cairo of “trafficking Coptic girls and women in Egypt.” The International Christian Solidarity Organization, an American-based Christian group, sent a letter to American President Barack Obama demanding he intervene to “save” Christians in Egypt.

America In Arabic news agency reported that the ICSO, a conservative Christian American Organization known for sponsoring conferences and campaigns to promote the claims of the persecution of Copts in Egypt, accused the Egyptian Government, in a letter sent to President Obama, of involvement in these crimes. The organization said that such crimes in Egypt are “a widespread phenomenon” and are consistent with “recognized definitions of trafficking in human beings,” which represents a “crime against humanity.”

The organization said in the letter that “trafficking in Christian women in Egypt is not a new phenomenon, as Pope Shenouda III, the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church protested this explicitly in 1976, when he said ‘there is pressure on Coptic girls to convert to Islam and to get the married to Muslims by threatening and terrorizing them’,” said the letter.

The letter, signed by John Ebner, head of the ICSO, urged President Obama to “encourage President Hosni Mubarak to take credible action to combat trafficking in Coptic girls and women and to combat the repressive Islamic culture that nurtures the atmosphere of these incidents.”

The organization also urged Obama earlier this month to ask American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to put the issue of “trafficking of Coptic women on top the agenda of diplomatic relations between Egypt and the U.S.”

The letter added that a report by the organization issued in cooperation with the Coptic Organization for Human Rights, based in Switzerland, documents what is described as “a criminal pattern that includes deception, sexual violence, capturing , forced conversion to Islam , and forced marriages of Christians in Egypt.”

The letter has aroused the anger of three Egyptian Churches – Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical. The three churches called the letter of the American organization as a “blatant interference in Egyptian affairs” and have condemned its message.

Bishop Bassanti, the Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Helwan, told al-Dustour that “this does not happen in Egypt and we have nothing to do with Obama. Egypt’s President is Mubarak and not Obama.” The Bishop added that the problems of Copts are an internal Egyptian affair that should be “addressed and solved inside Egypt.”

Rev. Ikram Lame’i, spokesman for the Evangelical Church in Egypt, said the ICSO is conservative, adding that it is “impossible for the Egyptian government to help in raping or abducting Christian girls or to force them to convert to Islam.” He said the Egyptian government takes immediate action when these incidents are reported.

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