Letter to Egyptian Ambassadors in Rome, Vatican City and Washington DC

Your Excellency Ambassadors of Egypt,I am sending you this letter in my capacity as President of “Voice of the Copts”, an Organization registered in Italy and in the United States of America for the protection of the Copts (the Christians of Egypt) against the discriminations and the persecutions that our community has been suffering daily in Egypt for many years. Ashraf Ramelah His Excellency Ambassador  Nabil Fahmy, Embassy of Egypt in the U.S.A. 3521 International Ct. NW, Washington, DC 20008His Excellency Ambasssador Helmy Abd el Hameed Saleh Bedeir, Embassy of Egypt in Italy Via Salaria, 267 RomeHis Excellency Ambassador Nevein Semakah Halem Ambassy of Egypty to the Holy Sede P.za della Città Leonina, 9 RomeYour Excellency Ambassadors of Egypt, I am sending you this letter in my capacity as President of  “Voice of the Copts”, an Organization registered in Italy and in the United States of America for the protection of the Copts (the Christians of Egypt) against the discriminations and the persecutions that our community has been suffering daily in Egypt for many years.I take the opportunity of the forthcoming Christmas celebrations of the Coptic Orthodox Church, on January 7th, 2008, to send you the following message. Every year, at Christmas time, Egyptians Diplomats and members of the Egyptian Government, pay well-wishing visits to various Coptic Churches in Egypt and abroad. Our religious leaders have always politely received them, but I would like to clarify to you the fact that their presence has never been welcomed. It is for this reason that I call on you and other Egyptian Diplomats to cancel this annual “façade” or “public image” visits, because you are not welcomed.In fact, for years now, the Egyptian Government has exploited the Christmas celebrations of the Coptic Church, as a promotion to demonstrate to the West, its so-called religious tolerance.  Moreover,the visits of the Egyptian officials, have always been accompanied by messages aimed at the spreading of political propaganda, that the government does not distinguish between its citizens, regardless of their creed. But this is not true. We, as Copts (almost fifteen million Copts in Egypt alone), and other minorities such as followers of the Bahá’í Faith have been continuously discriminated against by the Egyptian Government, whether in our businesses, or in our everyday life. Obviously, being part of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, You will concur, that the Coptic population enjoy equal rights and that no problems exists in Egypt. Well, Your Excellency, since you represent Egypt, for how long will you sustain this pantomime? For how long will your Government continue to lie, pretending to respect the human life of its own citizens? With what courage can you still claim that there is no discrimination against the Copts in Egypt, considering the terrible events of El Kosh, of Alexandria and of Isna?There was a time some time ago, when our Egypt was the beacon of a great civilization, but today, the dictatorship has taken it towards auto destruction. Nowadays, we the Copts,live in fear, knowing that should any incident  happen, there is no institution, nor internal security system which would protect us.  The same goes for the human rights activists, who are being arrested, tortured, and thrown in prisons, leaving them and Egypt without any dignity. Your Excellency, I would like to tell you that we are not seeking any confrontation, but we are rather looking for a dialog.  We hope that you will be able to comprehend and explain to the Government in Cairo, that we are tired, and that we can no longer tolerate being treated like citizens with no value. We no longer want to live in our country like aliens.Before your Embassy calls the media, as usual, to inform them that this letter has no truth in it, I would like, with your permission, to list a few facts related to the persecutions carried out against the Coptic Community, which took place in  Egypt in 2007: 1. The abduction, rape and forced conversion to Islam of Coptic girls through the Muslim Brotherhood, such as the case of  the young girl of “El Mahalla”, Ange Hatef Kamel, or that of Mary Farouk Fouad and many, many more, without the Egyptian internal security system taking any interest in them. 2. The arrest without any proof, of the Christian activists, Peter Ezzat and Adel Fawzi Faltas, of the MECA human rights organization, which is based in Canada and Egypt.  Ezat and Fawzi were released after four months, without the persecution being able to present any proof against them. 3. A few days after the release of Peter Ezzat and Adel Fawzi Faltas, other people were arrested, among whom were Mamduh Ramzy, a lawyer.  This last person is the defending attorney of the civil part in the “El Kosh” case, the events of which took place in 2000 in Kosh, Egypt, where twenty-one Copts were massacred.  Today, eight years later, not only has there been no justice achieved from the Egyptian government, but the Mubarak regime has tried to intimidate the defense lawyer, by incarcerating him. 4. Andro and Mario, on the other hand, two young children, who the Egyptian Government has tried to convert to Islam, only because their father had converted.  An Imam in the tribunal of Cairo, has moreover asserted, that the children have to follow the parent who has converted to the ‘better’ religion.  The Egyptian Government, therefore, seems willing to cancel the individual and his freedom of choice, interfering in such private matters like faith. 5.  Mohamed Bishoy Hegazy, who converted to Christianity, was denied by the Government, to change his religion on his identity card.  Unfortunately, the Egyptian Government is still demanding in the 21st Century, that a person’s religion has to be specified in one’s own identity documents. The list is even longer, but I would like to remind you of another shameless incident, which took place a few weeks before the end of 2007, that of the burning and looting of the stores belonging to the Copts of Isna, Upper Egypt.  The damages were estimated to be more than $1.5 million dollars.   Once again, the Egyptian Government has done nothing to help the victims.Your Excellency, after this short listing of a few of the uncivilized acts, which happened with the help of the State Security Police and the Egyptian Government, against its own citizens, whose only wish is to live peacefully in their own country, I would like to ask you a few questions.  For how long will the Christians,the other Egyptian minorities, the  human rights activists and the political opposition continue to live under persecution?  How will the Government address the Copts on our Christmas celebrations, after all the sufferings it caused during the past year and the years before? Your Excellency, we, the Copts are ready to receive and welcome anyone who will accept all religious beliefs in their diversity and respect human rights. The Egyptian Government has to demonstrates  this to us through its own actions, and not merely by the presence of a member of the regime during our Christmas celebrations.Coptic Associations in Canada, the United States, and other European Countries have taken the same measures.  Your Excellency, with this letter I wish to remind you that we are not naïve; we very well know that on January 7th, you will still go and visit our Copt Churches, and still no one will express their own dislike of the regime.  After all, you still continue to intimidate our families in Egypt and we all know how much pain you are able to inflict upon them.  In spite of this, will we not stop our fight and our exposure to the media of the truth; we will do this in the name of our beloved Egypt, the way it was in the 1930s, when our fathers were still proud people.Cordially,  Voice of the CoptsDott. Arch. Ashraf Ramelah, Associate AIA President

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