Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Islamic barbarism towards Egyptian copts addressed at U.S. Helsinki Commission

The Situation Faced by the Coptic Christian Community in Egypt
Statement to the U.S. Helsinki Commission
Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael H. Posner

November 15, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for conducting this important hearing on the situation faced by Coptic Christian community in Egypt, and for inviting me to testify.
As you know, this is a time of substantial transition in Egypt as Egyptians strive to move their country towards democracy. This is not an easy process and it will not happen overnight. Egypt is only starting on a path from the temporary stewardship of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), through parliamentary elections that will begin in two weeks, then the process of drafting of a new constitution and finally presidential elections. As they move toward these milestones, millions of Egyptians hope to see the emergence of a democratic civilian government that respects the universal rights of all of its citizens.

As part of this vision, it is vital that there be a place in the new Egypt for all citizens, including all religious minorities, of which the Coptic Christian community is the largest. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have made clear their deep concern about violence against Coptic Christians, most recently during the October 9 tragedy in front of the Egyptian radio and television building in the Maspiro area of Cairo. At least 25 people died and more than 300 were injured. We have urged the Egyptian government to investigate this violence, including allegations that the military and police used excessive force that was the cause of most of the demonstrator deaths. We also have urged that those responsible for these deaths and injuries be held accountable.

While the focus of my testimony is on the situation of the Copts, I would like to point out that other religious minorities also suffer official discrimination. While non-Muslim religious minorities officially recognized by the government – namely Christians and the tiny Jewish community – generally worship without harassment, members of the Bahai Faith, which the government does not recognize, face personal and collective discrimination. The government also sometimes arrests, detains, and harasses Muslims such as Shia, Ahmadiya, and Quranist, converts from Islam to Christianity, and members of other religious groups, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. The Government continues to refuse to recognize conversions of Muslims to Christianity or other religions, which constitutes a prohibition in practice.

I would like to set this testimony on the Copts in a broader context. Last week Secretary Clinton gave an important policy address in which she outlined our overall policy on democratization in the Middle East and beyond. She described the US government’s principled engagement in the Middle East. We support the aspirations of citizens to live in societies that guarantee freedom, including freedom of expression, assembly and religion. We also believe strongly in systems that allow citizens a say in how they are governed and that will provide economic opportunities for all. These are the demands that we heard in Tahrir Square, where Copts and Muslims joined hands to protest and to pray in the weeks leading up to the downfall of the Mubarak regime. We have heard similar demands echoing throughout the Middle East and even far beyond that region in the ensuing months.

Secretary Clinton also has spoken out consistently about the importance of religious freedom and religious tolerance, both of which are fundamental to human dignity and peaceful transitions to democracy. Religious freedom is a human right, guaranteed by international human rights law. At the release of the State Department’s report on International Religious Freedom in September, Secretary Clinton emphasized the role that religious freedom and tolerance play in building stable and harmonious societies. She said:
“Hatred and intolerance are destabilizing. When governments crack down on religious expression, when politicians or public figures try to use religion as a wedge issue, or when societies fail to take steps to denounce religious bigotry and curb discrimination based on religious identity, they embolden extremists and fuel sectarian strife. And the reverse is also true: When governments respect religious freedom, when they work with civil society to promote mutual respect, or when they prosecute acts of violence against members of religious minorities, they can help turn down the temperature. They can foster a public aversion to hateful speech without compromising the right to free expression. And in doing so, they create a climate of tolerance that helps make a country more stable, more secure, and more prosperous.”
This is the basis for our belief that in order to succeed and prosper, Egypt, and its neighbors, must protect the rights of all citizens and all minorities, including its Coptic population. The corollary is also true: successful democratic transitions are the best way to safeguard those rights.

Mr. Chairman, the Copts in Egypt have faced discrimination for many years. Christians face personal and collective discrimination, especially in government employment and the ability to build, renovate, and repair places of worship.
Although they represent about 10% of the population and play an important role in Egypt’s economy, Copts have suffered from widespread discrimination and remain underrepresented in prominent positions in Egyptian politics and society.
The headlines – and the trend lines – continue to tell a disturbing story.

I was in Egypt just days after the January 2010 attack on the Nag Hammadi Church in Upper Egypt, when gunmen shot and killed seven people as worshippers were leaving a midnight Christmas mass. At that time, I called for an end to impunity for such crimes and full accountability for those who attacked this holy place. One suspect, Hamam al-Kamouny was tried under the emergency law in a state security court, convicted on January 16 and executed on October 10. The other two defendants, Qoraishi Abul Haggag and Hendawi El-Sayyed, were acquitted by the court, angering many Coptic activists. Yesterday, November 14, Egypt’s official news agency announced that Abol-Haggag and El-Sayyed are to be retried on December 19 under the Higher Emergency State Security Court, for crimes including premeditated murder and terrorism with the use of force and violence. We applaud the pursuit of accountability in this case, although we would prefer that these types of crimes be dealt with in civilian courts with full due process of law.

Almost exactly a year after the Nag Hammadi attack, on January 1, 2011, a bomb exploded at the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria, killing 23 people and wounding around 100. There are no suspects in custody for that crime, although the Government of Egypt reports that its investigation is ongoing.

These two incidents, and others like them, took place before the fall of President Mubarak on February 11. We have since received reports of an increase in sectarian violence and tensions, including at least 67 people killed in religious clashes – most of them Coptic Christians. This brings the total number of reported deaths this year to more than 90. There have been at least six recent major incidents of violence against Copts:
- On February 23, the Army used live ammunition, including rocket propelled -grenades, against unarmed Copts during a land dispute at a monastery. A monk, one of the six shot, later died. To our knowledge, no one has been held accountable for these attacks.

- On March 4, in the village of Sol, a large group of Muslim villagers destroyed the Church of Saint Mina and St. George after the army failed to stop them. To our knowledge, there has been no investigation and no one has been charged despite videos of the perpetrators.

- On March 8, 13 people were killed when Muslims and Copts clashed in the Mukkatum area of Cairo. Some of the Copts had been protesting the slow government response to the destruction of the church in Sol. One Coptic bishop claimed that though news reports listed seven Christians and six Muslims. To our knowledge, there has been no investigation and no one has been charged in the deaths.

- On May 8 in Imbaba, a poor neighborhood of Cairo, two churches were attacked and one burned during sectarian riots. The clashes resulted in 23 deaths and 232 injuries. That month, the official media reported that the government referred 48 suspects to trial. Approximately half of these suspects have been arrested, including a prominent Salafist leader, while half remain at large. The High State Security Court in Giza has adjourned the trial until December 4, when it expects to hear testimony from the remaining witnesses.

- On September 30, in Merinab village in Edfu, Aswan governorate, an estimated crowd of 3,000 Muslims looted and burned the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church, in addition to some Copt-owned homes and businesses, following reported incitement by village imams. Local media reported that a Ministry of Justice fact-finding committee traveled to Aswan on October 12, in the aftermath of the Maspiro violence, to investigate the church burning. The status of this investigation is unclear.

- And finally, on October 9 in Cairo, violence erupted in front of the Egyptian television building known as Maspiro, at a demonstration by Copts protesting the government’s failure to investigate the burning of the church in Merinab in Aswan governorate. At least twenty-five people were killed and more than 300 injured.

On October 11, Secretary Clinton addressed the October 9 violence at Maspiro and called for an immediate, credible, and transparent investigation of all who were responsible for the violence, with full due process of law. The White House issued a statement urging Egyptians to move forward together to forge a strong and united Egypt and reaffirming our belief that the rights of minorities – including Copts – must be respected, and that all people have the universal rights of peaceful protest and religious freedom.

The government of Egypt has stated publicly that they are conducting two investigations. The Egyptian Armed Forces are reviewing the conduct of Military Police, who eyewitnesses and video evidence suggest ran over and shot at demonstrators. The Ministry of Justice has been tasked by the Egyptian Cabinet with a full investigation of the incident. Separately, military prosecutors are investigating about 30 demonstrators, including one prominent blogger, who were detained during the violence. They are accused of inciting violence, stealing firearms, and attacking security forces. They will be tried in military courts.

On November 2, a fact-finding committee established by the National Council for Human Rights issued an initial report on the Maspiro violence. (NCHR is a quasi-governmental watchdog body, but the committee was led by respected human rights advocates). The report found that the march by Copts and their Muslim allies began peacefully at Shubra and moved toward Maspiro in downtown Cairo. According to the report and several corroborating accounts, as the marchers approached Maspiro, they were attacked by civilians throwing rocks and chanting Muslim extremist slogans. According to the same sources, military police then confronted the marchers and attempted to keep them from reaching the building. The MPs used shields and batons, and fired blanks. Marchers began fighting back against the violent civilians and military police. The NCHR report acknowledged that 12 or more civilians were killed when they were run over by military vehicles. The committee said it could not determine who fired the bullets that killed at least seven demonstrators.
During the height of the clashes, state TV anchor Rasha Magdy called on “honorable Egyptians” to defend the Army against “attacks by violent demonstrators.” Twenty-one prominent Egyptian human right organizations criticized the “inflammatory role played by the official state media,” charging that a “direct link can be traced between the outright incitement against demonstrators by state media and the events at Maspiro.”

On October 13, the head of Egypt’s military justice system, Adel al-Morsi, said that the military would lead the official investigation into the events. According to Human Rights Watch and local media, the military has arrested approximately 30 individuals. The government has said it will try suspects in military courts, since the crimes involved attacks on military personnel and equipment.
The Coptic community is concerned, as we are, about the severity and frequency of sectarian attacks against their community, and while they recognize that the government has nothing to do with most of these attacks, they are greatly concerned about the need to hold perpetrators accountable. I want to make clear that most of these clashes have involved both Copts and Muslims, and members of both communities have been the perpetrators and victims of the violence. It also is important to emphasize that many Muslims have stood up to defend members of the Coptic community against extremist violence.

The United States Government condemns this sectarian violence and continues to urge the Government of Egypt to take all necessary and available measures to reduce these tensions.
In raising our concerns about the Coptic community, we are also aware and very supportive of the positive steps the Egyptian government has taken on behalf of the Copts. On March 8, by order of the Prime Minister, Coptic priest Mitaus Wahba was released from prison where he was serving a five year sentence for officiating at a wedding of a Christian convert from Islam.
On April 14, the SCAF fulfilled its commitment to rebuild a church in Sol that had been destroyed on March 4 by mob violence. And as I noted earlier, the government also took steps in response to the May 8 Imbaba violence; in addition to re-opening dozens of churches, the government is prosecuting 48 individuals charged with murder, attempted murder, and a variety of other crimes. The trial is scheduled to resume on December 4.
The government also has pledged to adopt a Unified Places of Worship Law, which would guarantee all faiths the ability to construct and maintain places of worship. The Cabinet sent the draft law to the military council in October. We urge the SCAF to endorse this provision as soon as possible. The Government of Egypt has promised to consider this measure for several years, including twice in the last five months. Numerous cases of sectarian violence in recent years have stemmed from disputes over church construction. The prompt adoption of this provision now would send a very strong signal of the government’s commitment to protect religious freedom. It would recognize the right of all Egyptians to freely build places of worship they need to conduct religious activities. As the government reviews this proposal it should take into account the concerns expressed over earlier drafts that the suggested multi-stage process of applying for permits to construct and repair churches is too convoluted, cedes too much authority to governors to grant permits, and imposes onerous restrictions on the number and location of houses of worship.
Finally, in the aftermath of the Maspiro violence, we welcome steps that are being taken by the Government of Egypt to reduce discrimination in the penal codes. On October 15, the SCAF issued a decree amending Egypt’s penal code to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, gender, language, faith, or race. The decree also delineated prison sentences and specific fines for acts of discrimination, as well as failure to prevent discrimination. These included more severe penalties for government officials found to be complicit in discrimination.
The new penal code provisions bolster the Egyptian constitution’s ban on discrimination. Article 7 of the March 31, 2011, constitutional declaration states that “all citizens are equal before the law. They have equal public rights and duties without discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, language, religion, or creed.” We urge the government to enforce these and other anti-discrimination laws and hold violators accountable so that all minorities, including Copts, can enjoy equal protection.
Like Egyptian Muslims, Egyptian Copts are concerned about their country’s future and their own place in it. In addition to security from sectarian violence and equal treatment under the law, they want equal representation in parliament and a proportional voice on the committee that will draft Egypt’s new constitution. Like moderate Egyptian Muslims, the vast majority of whom support religious freedom, Copts and other religious minorities consider themselves full partners in a new Egypt.
As Secretary Clinton said last week, “If – over time – the most powerful political force in Egypt remains a roomful of unelected officials, they will have planted the seeds for future unrest, and Egyptians will have missed a historic opportunity.” The door to real democratic change is only beginning to open. We hope Egyptians will walk through it together to a more peaceful and prosperous future.
Thank you.

Petition Opposing Shariah Law in American

Petition Opposing Shariah Law in American
Courts and in Support of Liberty Counsel's
Demand Letter to Nashville's Hutton Hotel!

The Issue:
Shariah law's infiltration into American courts -- the U.S. expression of a world-wide movement to overturn Western societies by the imposition of Islamic law and culture -- is quickly becoming the leading cultural and legal threat to our way of life. With increasing frequency, American courts and communities are submitting to Shariah law in ways that directly undermine and subvert our Constitution.

As a public interest law firm, Liberty Counsel is taking aggressive action to stop the threat of Shariah Law -- both in the courtroom and the court of public opinion. Recently, Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, cancelled an important national conference on the impact of Shariah law on the U.S. Constitution. In response to this unjustifiable act, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver -- one of the scheduled speakers -- sent a "Demand Letter" challenging Hutton Hotels' decision to censor the conference.

Sign Our Petition Opposing Shariah Law in American Courts!
We are calling on citizens across the nation to join with Liberty Counsel in exposing and opposing efforts to implement Shariah law here in America by signing our Citizen Petition. This petition is a clear statement of your opposition to legal and cultural efforts to impose Shariah Law, as well as your support of Liberty Counsel's Demand Letter to the Hutton Hotel.

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The Petition: As a citizen of the United States, I am deeply concerned by efforts under way to subvert our Constitution and way of life through the imposition of Shariah law in our legal system. Shariah law is the proximate cause of oppression and suffering for millions of people worldwide and represents the greatest threat America currently faces from the radical Islamic agenda.I specifically oppose the admittance, recognition, or use of Shariah law in any U.S. Courtroom or government jurisdiction. I also call on private institutions to resist pressures to cater to Shariah law or its proponents.

I also support Liberty Counsel's Demand Letter of October 26, 2011, to the Hutton Hotel, an operating unit of Amerimar Enterprises, and call on Hutton Hotel to reverse its policy of suppressing the free speech rights of those who peacefully speak out about threats to our Constitution and the impact of recognizing Shariah law in American courtrooms.

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Where is the support for Egypt’s Copts?

Where is the support for Egypt’s Copts?
Written by Jack Chivo Monday,
14 November 2011
VANCOUVER – News reports about continuing attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt are disturbing, yet aside from under-reported rallies by Copts in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, there appear to have been no supporting protests from ‘human rights’ organizations or churches anywhere, and the media appear uninterested.

Indeed, over the past several weeks, there has been more media coverage of the ‘Occupy’ movement in North America and the trial of Michael Jackson’s physician, than of the fate of about 10 million Christians in Egypt. The Copts, whose presence in Egypt predates that of its Arab Muslim population, have been treated as second-class citizens and subjected to repeated murderous attacks, humiliation and degradation at the hands of the Muslim majority.

On Oct. 9, Copts demonstrated in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, to protest the destruction of an ancient church by a Muslim mob. The protestors were met with deadly force: 35 Christians were killed and hundreds more injured. According to the New York Times, "the military and riot police…appeared to be working in tandem with the Muslims (civilians), who were lashing out at the Christian Copts.” The British Telegraph reported that military armoured vehicles charged the demonstrators at full speed and crushed many to death.

What a contrast to the restraint shown by Egyptian security forces during the anti-Mubarak demonstrations held in Tahrir Square, most notably when CBS reporter Lara Logan was gang-raped while hundreds of people watched.

The Oct. 9 protest was triggered by a violent attack on St. George's Church in the village of Al Marinab in Edfu province. The church was more than 100 years old and in a state of ruin after decades of neglect. Under Sharia (Islamic) law, Christians must receive approval from the government to build, or repair, churches. It took many years before they were granted permission to do the necessary work on St. George’s Church. As the work was being done, hundreds of Muslims attacked. According to reports, they removed the cross and set the church on fire while the district security chief and his men cheered. This was the fourth Christian church in Egypt destroyed by arson since March.

Immediately afterward, several Christian homes in the neighbourhood were also looted and demolished.

Copts are the original people of Egypt. They were there during the time of the Pharaohs, the Roman occupation, Cleopatra’s reign and the conquest by the Byzantine Empire. From the beginning of the Common Era to the fall of the Byzantine Empire, Copts represented about 90 per cent of the population, and Jews, Greeks and Romans were minorities. According to ancient religious texts, the Copts (as they were subsequently called) were converted to Christianity by St. Mark sometime around 42 CE.

When Arabs invaded and conquered Egypt in 641, they imposed a special tax, called jizya, on non-Muslims, who were declared dhimmis – second-class citizens – under Sharia law. According to Wikipedia, the literal translation of the word dhimmi is “one whose responsibilities (and rights) have been taken (away).” Copts suffered for 1,200 years under degrading laws and harsh conditions, which pushed them into abject poverty.

After Viceroy Muhammad Ali Pasha abolished the jizya in the early 19th century, Copts were permitted to join the army, and they gradually moved towards middle-class status, as they were given more freedom to worship, study, practice commerce, own land and become professionals.

By the early 1950s, many were successful and wealthy, but this ended after the 1952 military coup led by Gamal Abdel Nasser. The country returned to a harsh application of laws governing the dhimmi status of non-Muslims and millions of Copts emigrated as a result.

One example of the anti-Christian attitude prevalent in modern-day Egypt was the 2009 slaughter of every pig in the country – estimated to number between 300,000 to 500,000 – under the pretense of preventing swine flu. The scientifically unsound and unnecessary action destroyed the livelihood of farmers, butchers, restaurant owners, meat distributors, and other small merchants. Christian protests against the elimination of this dietary staple were met with police and mob violence.

The world’s human-rights ‘fighters’ stood silent then, as they do now.

Jack Chivo is a retired journalist who lives in West Vancouver.
Last Updated ( Monday, 14 November 2011 )

Monday, November 14, 2011

Michael Coren on muslims killing Coptic Christians

Michael Coren on muslims killing Coptic Christians
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Friday, November 11, 2011

U.S. Helsinki Commission to Hold Hearing on Egypt

From: Helsinki Commission News []
Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011 10:39 AM
To: Roudik, Peter
Subject: U.S. Helsinki Commission to Hold Hearing on Egpyt


Hon. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
November 10, 2011


WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) announced today the following hearing:

“From Arab Spring to Coptic Winter: Sectarian Violence and the Struggle for Democratic Transition in Egypt”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2:00 p.m.

Room 210 Cannon House Office Building

Please join the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe for a heaing that explores the nexus between sectarian violence and democracy.

On Sunday October 9, 2011, 25 people were killed and more than 300 injured when the Egyptian military attacked a peaceful group of Coptic Christians protesting the burning of a church in Aswan. In what has been deemed the “Massacre at Maspero,” referring to the location of the demonstration, witnesses say the army fired on the demonstrators with live ammunition and plowed into the crowd with armored vehicles. The military denied the use of live ammunition and claimed that their soldiers were attacked by an armed mob. The military has arrested at least 28 people, almost all Copts, including prominent blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, and brought them before military prosecutors. The hearing will focus on violence perpetrated against the Coptic Christians in Egypt, the implications of the events for that community and the current Egyptian leadership, and prospects for the consolidation of democracy in Egypt.

Witnesses Scheduled to Appear:

Mr. Michael H. Posner, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Department of State

Ms. Dina Guirguis, Egyptian democracy activist and attorney and member of the Egyptian American Rule of Law Association (EARLA)

Mr. Samuel Tadros, Research Fellow, Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute

Dr. Michele Dunne, Director, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council


The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.
Media Contact: Shelly Han
# # #

Coptic Christians protest infront of un in ny against violence in Egypt ,Egypt Christians abroad tell US persecution is “crime against humanity”

Egypt Christians abroad tell US persecution is “crime against humanity”
CAIRO: Egyptian Coptic Christians living in the United States have sent a letter to American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, imploring her to take more action against what they termed a “crime against humanity” facing the Christian population in Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the letter, sent on Wednesday to the State Department, head of the American Coptic Association Monir Dawoud warned the United States government that the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most organized and popular Islamic group, is “attempting to annihilate Christians” and other minority groups int he country.
It came as Clinton appeared ready to give support to Egyptians as they head to the polls in less than three weeks to elect a new parliament that will be responsible for developing and writing a new constitution in the country, some 11 months after a popular uprising ousted the former government.
Dawoud called for international protection of Christians in the country as well as an “Egyptian Charter of Rights and Freedoms” that guarantees the rights of all minorities, the disabled, women and children.
“The constitution should be made before any parliament elections to decide the type of government and President beside giving chances to the new political parties to be at the level of competition with the Brotherhood’s party and so allowing all citizens to be represented,” Dawoud wrote. “We demand that your aid to Egypt should be conditioned on the justice towards Christians and minorities.”
The controversial leader, who many Coptic Christians in Egypt say does not speak on their behalf, also accused the Brotherhood of wanting to change the American Constitution based on the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book.
“A planned destruction to America is going on,” he said. “The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is deadly serious about waging what it calls “civilization jihad” against the United States and other freedom-loving nations in order to secure their submission to the Islamic totalitarian political-military-legal doctrine called Sharia. The MB’s goal in this country is to replace our great Constitution with theirs, namely the Koran. And they regard this task as one commanded by none other than Allah.”
The head of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in the Giza governorate in Egypt, Amr Derrag, said that his party – an offshoot of the Brotherhood – wants to guarantee all rights of Egyptians, whether they be Coptic or women.
“Christians were part of the revolution and they deserve the full rights of the Egyptian society,” he told at his home on Thursday, denying any “plan” to force out the country’s Christian population.
However, Dawoud’s letter is likely to get some traction in Congress, where repeated calls to stem the popularity of the Brotherhood have been heard.
A staffer for a leading Republican Congressman told that “many representatives in Washington believe, whether true or not, that the Christians in Egypt are facing a genocide of some kind,” adding that this is the result of “the PR campaign being made by the Christian community here in the US.”
Dawoud hit home on this fact in his letter, calling on Washington to curtail aid to the country and put stipulations on Congressional aid to Egypt until the situation facing the Coptic community is rectified.
“We demand that your aid to Egypt should be conditioned on the justice towards Christians and minorities,” he said. “What we are facing today is a Crime against not only the Christian minority in Egypt, but against Humanity, against all what United States stand for, against the constitution that the founders of America have shed their blood for. We appreciate your speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves and defending those who cannot defend themselves, the Christians of Egypt who are facing persecution, impending massacres and ethnic cleansing.” Christians protest infront of un in ny against violence in Egypt
Morris sadek leads coptic protest infornt UN November 2011