Two USCIRF members highlight the numerous ways in which the government of Mohammed Morsi over the past 12 months has failed to live up to the hopes many had for him. Particularly in relation to religious freedom the government has not only not improved but has seen a decrease of religious freedom in many respects. Government policies have been part of a culture that has provoked numerous violent attacks against the country’s Christian minority and other religious groups.
by Katrina Lantos Swett and Mary Ann Glendon
06/09/2013 Egypt (al-Monitor) – In June 2012, more than 16 months following the Tahrir Square revolution and the end of Hosni Mubarak’s reign, Egypt went to the polls and elected Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi as its new president.
For many, this historic election was a hopeful step toward democracy and respect for human rights. Yet today, one year later, hope is flagging amid woeful neglect of pivotal rights, including religious freedom.
Members of the US Commission on Religious Freedom (USCIRF), on which we serve, saw this firsthand in February of this year. Upon arriving in Cairo, our delegation met with the US ambassador, high-level Egyptian officials, human rights defenders, women’s rights advocates, Muslim religious leaders and members of minority religious communities.
Among our concerns are Egypt’s new constitution, a code forbidding blasphemy, an impunity problem, restrictions on building places of worship and problems regarding religious identification and conversion.
Besides directly violating religious freedom, such laws fuel Egypt’s impunity problem by provoking hateful attacks against Copts and other religious minorities for alleged blasphemous speech. While the number of casualties has fallen, perpetrators of past violence have gone unpunished.