Egypt is in the process of transitioning to a democratic form of government. At the same time the government is faced with the responsibility of protecting freedom of religion for all its citizens. Coptic Christians in Egypt constitute the largest Christian community in the Middle East, as well as the largest religious minority in the region. In 2011, approximately 94 people -- mostly Coptic Christians -- died as the result of sectarian violence in Egypt, 70 since the fall of Mubarak.
In recent remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “I am concerned that respect for religious freedom [in Egypt] is quite tenuous. And I don’t know that that’s going to quickly be resolved, but since 2011 and the fall of the [Hosni] Mubarak regime, sectarian violence has increased. Secretary Clinton also stated “we don’t think that there’s been a consistent commitment to investigate and to apply the laws equally to the perpetrators of such violence.” Coptic Christians, said Secretary Clinton, “are understandably anxious about what the future holds for them and their country.”
Democratically-elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has repeatedly stated that he intends to be president of all the Egyptian people. Although he is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, he has pledged to appoint an inclusive government that includes women and Christians in high leadership positions. “The Egyptian people and the international community are looking to him to follow through on those commitments,” the Secretary stated.
The United States supports genuine democracy in Egypt, where every citizen has the right to live, work, and worship how they choose, whether they be Muslim or Christian or from any other background; where no group or faction can impose their authority or their ideology or their religion on anyone else; where there is healthy competition and no one institution or leader gets too powerful and the rights of all citizens are respected and protected.
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the inherent right of people everywhere to think what they want, say what they think, and come together in fellowship without the state looking over their shoulder.
The United States looks forward to working with Egypt’s first democratically-elected president and new government as it strives to follow through on its commitments to protect the freedom of religion and human rights of all Egyptians.